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Second wave of COVID-19 is ‘bigger and more deadly than the first’

The leaders of several Middle Tennessee hospitals are urging residents “in the strongest terms” to combat a spike in coronavirus cases by “limiting the size of formal and informal gatherings” and wearing masks.

The “appeal to all Tennesseans” was made in an open letter published earlier this week by the leaders of several hospitals, including Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Meharry Medical College and TriStar Health.

“The deadly COVID-19 pandemic is surging once again in our state,” the letter begins. “Daily new cases, transmission rates and hospitalizations have surpassed the July levels, making this second wave bigger and more deadly than the first. Medical experts and elected officials across our nation are sounding a warning about the rising numbers, and we – the state hospital leaders – share their deep concerns, especially with Thanksgiving and the holiday season beginning this week.”

As of Tuesday, the letter explains there are more than 700 patients in Middle Tennessee hospitals with COVID-19, which is the most since the start of the pandemic in March and a 72% increase since Nov. 1. Models were forecasting an additional 10% increase in virus patients by the end of next week, according to the hospital leaders.

“If this trend continues, our hospital systems could soon be overwhelmed, and that would compromise the ability to serve all patients, not just those with COVID-19,” the letter continues. “Currently hospitals are experiencing staff shortages due to both the rising volumes of patients needing care and to the absence of medical professionals who have contracted the virus or are in quarantine because of a COVID-19 exposure. The cause of most of these exposures are coming from outside the hospital – from the rampant community spread of the virus in our state.”

The letter, which has been shared more than 1,000 times on Facebook, states “all of us would love nothing more than [to] gather and celebrate the holidays with family and friends. However, we must stay the course. Now is the time to take heed, keep socially distant and wear masks, even indoors.”

The Middle Tennessee hospital leaders closed out the open-letter to residents, “we must act, and act now to protect hospital capacity and to support those who have been on the front lines of this fight for months – our medical personnel, first responders and essential workers. We are Tennesseans. In the most challenging times, we have always answered the call to act. And once again, by working together, we will get through this for our neighbors, friends, and family.”