Restaurants and retail stores will no longer be restricted to 50% capacity, but instead urged to focus on social-distancing standards this week after an announcement by Gov. Bill Lee’s Unified Command Group on Friday.
Lee cited a downward trend in cases as testing is further expanded to high-yield populations in metropolitan areas. So far, 325,280 individuals in Tennessee have been tested and thousands of new tests are reported daily.
The guidance released Friday applies to 89 of Tennessee’s 95 counties, with discretion left to county governments in Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Sullivan counties.
The Economic Recovery Group has not yet released its guidelines for restaurants and retail stores now that capacity restrictions are to be lifted May 22. In their statement Friday, the ERG said guidelines would be released early this week along with a new Tennessee Pledge.
Effective May 22, large attractions will also be reopening under new restrictions. Racetracks, amusement parks, waterparks, theaters and dinner theaters, auditoriums and large museums will be permitted to open this Friday, so long as social distancing can be practiced. Gatherings of 10 or more are still restricted, “for the time being,” the ERG said.
Lee has praised Tennesseans' social-distancing efforts, saying they have “earned” the reopening and he urges the practice to continue.
Social distancing in Tennessee appears to have changed the model for COVID-19 case projections, too.
Analysts at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) are paying attention to more than just the case count, but they are most concerned with the number of deaths from COVID-19. In mid-April, IHME projected Tennessee to reach its peak in deaths with around 15 or more in a total day. That peak appears to have actually been reached between April 4 and April 10, when a total of 48 people died over a six-day period.
For a span of 22 days from April 18 to May 3, five people died per day from COVID-19, totaling 110 deaths in three weeks.
It appears rather than having a slope-like model, Tennessee has experienced a stair-step model in which the number of deaths will plateau for a period of time and continue to decrease over time.
However, the last week brought what appears to be another peak in COVID-19 deaths.
Over a seven-day period, 55 Tennesseans died from the coronavirus, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. The highest day was Thursday, May 14, when 14 people died across the state from COVID-19.
The erratic nature of COVID-19 deaths could change the projection model yet again for Tennessee.
In Bradley County, a total of 82 people have tested positive for COVID-19. A total of 65 people have recovered and one individual, a patient of Tennova Healthcare from Hamilton County, has died.
In Tennessee, 17,388 people have been confirmed with the coronavirus, 298 have died and 9,652 have recovered.
Confirmed case totals for Bradley County neighbors include:
• Grundy: 30 cases, 26 recoveries and 1 death;
• Hamilton: 347 cases, 132 recoveries and 14 deaths;
• Marion: 32 cases, 23 recoveries and 1 death;
• McMinn: 123 cases, 81 recoveries and 12 deaths;
• Meigs: 22 cases, 19 recoveries and 0 deaths;
• Monroe: 41 cases, 21 recoveries and 1 death;
• Polk: 13 cases, 11 recoveries and 0 deaths;
• Rhea: 7 cases, 5 recoveries and 0 deaths;
• Sequatchie: 10 cases, 6 recoveries and 0 deaths;
Counties with Tennessee's highest numbers of cases include:
• Bedford: 252 cases, 181 recoveries and 4 deaths;
• Bledsoe: 607 cases, 596 recoveries and 1 death;
• Davidson: 3,893 cases, 2,323 recoveries and 44 deaths;
• Knox: 303 cases, 254 recoveries and 5 deaths;
• Lake: 404, cases, 54 recoveries;
• Madison: 163 cases, 141 recoveries and 2 deaths;
• Montgomery: 206 cases, 103 recoveries and 2 deaths;
• Putnam: 235 cases, 113 recoveries and 5 deaths;
• Rutherford: 847 cases, 363 recoveries and 19 deaths;
• Shelby: 3,726 cases, 2,358 recoveries and 85 deaths;
• Sumner: 739 cases, 355 recoveries and 41 deaths;
• Trousdale: 1,383 cases, 111 recoveries and 4 deaths;
• Williamson: 471 cases, 330 recoveries and 10 deaths; and
• Wilson: 318 cases, 195 recoveries and 8 deaths.