Coronavirus hospitalizations, deaths in Tennessee still at 'critical stage,' health official says

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A Tennessee health official said this week that coronavirus-related hospitalizations and deaths are already at the "critical stage" in the state — warning that any post-holiday surge could push the state and already-strapped health care resources to the brink. 

"The next few days and next couple of weeks are going to really determine how our hospitals are going to function over the next month," Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said, according to local news outlet News Channel 5. 

"Remember, it takes a few days to get infected after you're exposed, and then it will take between five and eight days before hospitalization and then… after you're in the hospital for a few days, that's when you get in the ICU," Piercey added, noting many hospitals in the state are "completely overwhelmed by their own patients" and cannot accept transfers. 

She urged Tennesseans to "stay safe" over the holiday season. 

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To date, the Volunteer State has reported more than 530,000 cases of COVID-19, with more than 6,200 fatalities, according to official estimates. 

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Meanwhile, nearly 14,000 people in the state have been hospitalized due to the virus, per state health data. 

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