Report: Tennessee does not have resources to face COVID-19 crisis

Source: MGN

(WVLT) -- As state leaders clamor over resources to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and institute orders to "flatten the curve," a data model used by the White House COVID-19 Task Force projects it won't be enough for states like Tennessee.

According to the projections, Tennessee will have half the beds it needs when resource use hits its peak in mid-April.

The data, compiled by the University of Washington's Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluations, comes from state and metro areas, hospital groups and from the World Health Organization as they report their cases, deaths, recoveries and health resource use.

The model has been cited by the White House COVID-19 correspondence coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx. It estimates that the U.S. could see as many as 100,000 to 200,000 people die from the virus. Officials say the next two weeks will be critical in slowing the virus and keeping the death toll down.

The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said on Sunday that, "Looking at what we're seeing now, I would say that 100,000 and 200,000" deaths could occur."

The country is expected to hit its peak resource use on April 15. The model, which is updated daily according to CNN, breaks down resource use and deaths per day for the states.

According to the model, Tennessee will hit its peak resource use on April 19 and will be short on necessary resources. The state, it says, will need 14,945 beds. The state has 7,812 beds and will be short by 7,133 beds when that day comes. The state will also be short on ICU beds. The data claims that health professionals will need 2,301 ICU beds and has 629 ICU beds available. That's a shortage of 1,672.

The data says that Tennessee will hit its peak deaths per day the next day, on April 20, with 159 predicted deaths that day.

On Monday, Governor Bill Lee issued a safer at home order, closing nonessential businesses and urging people to remain home except for essential travel.

Lee stopped short of issuing a mandatory shelter in place order, however, saying that it was "deeply important to me that we remain a state that protects personal liberties."

During a press conference on April 1, Lee said that the state was working on bringing thousands of beds "online" to deal with the upcoming surge. He said the state was planning and trying to prepare for the shortage and hoped the state would have the equipment and personnel to "close that gap that currently exists."

Lee was criticized for his approach by Kentucky governor Andy Beshear, who warned Kentuckians not to visit Tennessee, saying, "I cannot control that Tennessee has not taken the steps that we have."

Lee declined to address the criticism during a press conference but did say that Tennessee was testing more people per capita than other states.

As of April 1, Tennessee had 24 deaths related to the virus and 2,683 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Copyright 2020 WVLT News. All rights reserved.