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Update: Schools, assisted living communities adjust to rise in COVID cases

Williamson Medical reports drop in COVID hospitalizations

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WCS COVID-19 vaccines 5

Williamson County Schools nurses draw up the COVID-19 vaccine to administer to their fellow staff members.

Editor's note: This story was originally published Jan. 12 and updated on Jan. 14 to include updated COVID-19 data from Williamson Medical Center and Tennessee Department of Health.

With the quickly rising case numbers and hospitalizations due to the COVID-19 omicron variant, the community is once again adjusting in schools and senior living communities.  

At Monday night’s Williamson County Commission meeting, Williamson Medical Center CEO Dr. Phil Mazzuca reported that Williamson Medical Center had seen a recent surge in patients admitted with coronavirus. On Dec. 23, there were 11 COVID-19-positive patients hospitalized at WMC, and this number increased to 53 on Jan. 5. 

The hospital had a slight decrease in hospitalizations this week, however. In WMC's weekly report issued Thursday, it had 33 COVID-19-positive patients, including 19 who were unvaccinated and 14 vaccinated. There were nine patients deemed "critically ill," including four on ventilators. Of the nine, four were unvaccinated and five vaccinated, and three of the four on ventilators were unvaccinated.

The age range from Thursday's report included two patients in their 20s — one who was "critically ill" — all the way up to 10 in their 80s. 

WMC COVID data

Data provided by Williamson Medical Center on Jan. 13, 2022.

“When we looked at some of the information we received, it was anticipated that for our region, we would be peaking somewhere around late January to early February,” Mazzuca said at Monday's county commission meeting. “I’m hoping that information is wrong, because I’d hate to see it jump back into the 50s and 60s.” 

The Tennessee Department of Health altered its COVID-19 updating strategy starting last week. Previously, the TDH reported daily updates, but it now only gives updates weekly on Wednesdays. The data includes the previous Sunday through Saturday period. 

Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said the change came because the number of reported virus cases are becoming less accurate due to an increase in at-home testing. 

On Jan. 8, the last day the TDH reported case numbers, Williamson County reported only 173 new cases, but two days prior, on Jan. 6, it set its all-time high with 635 reported new cases in a single day.

Williamson County Schools is urging students and staff to stay home if they are not feeling well. In a statement released last week, the district said it was monitoring the community spread and its effect on the schools and continually alters its COVID-19 guidelines as necessary. 

“We are pleading with our families and staff to please stay home if they feel sick,” WCS Executive Director of Health and Wellness Gary Anderson said. “We know this is one of the best mitigation strategies we can follow. Simply put, if you do not feel well, do not come to school.” 

The district reported on Tuesday that 200 staff members and 590 students were in isolation with a confirmed positive case. It releases updates twice weekly. 

Dr. David Snowden, superintendent of Franklin Special School District, updated the school board during its meeting Monday evening. He reported 37 positive cases in the district, including 10 staff members and 27 students.  

Area assisted living and memory care providers are implementing stricter COVID-19 safety strategies to protect their vulnerable elderly patients. 

At Fountains of Franklin, Robin Crowell, executive director, feels they are faring well even with the rise in numbers within the county. 

“We have restricted visiting, limited to family and caregivers and medical personnel,” she said. “We have and continue to practice social distancing and follow the health guidelines for high-level disinfectant of our facility. We focus on information and guidelines to keep our residents safe so they may continue to live life to its fullest even in this pandemic.” 

A focus on the social wellbeing of the residents and family members has been the focus at Fountains.    

“We are adapting as needed to provide for a holistic environment and make living at the Fountains conducive to healing mind, body and spirit,” Crowell said. 

In neighboring Davidson County, it was announced on Monday that Nashville had 22,776 active cases of COVID-19. One in every 33 Nashville residents had an active case of the virus, and less than a week prior, cases were at 16,000.  

All non-emergency surgeries were also canceled in Davidson County hospitals on Monday.

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