Gov. Bill Lee optimistic about having college football in Tennessee

Gov. Bill Lee gives an update on COVID-19 in Tennessee Aug. 13

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMC) - State leaders spoke optimistically about coronavirus trends in Tennessee Thursday.

Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said the state is seeing a stabilization in COVID-19 cases in large to mid-size metropolitan areas; however, the uptick continues in rural areas.

The state reported two dozen new virus-related deaths Thursday with another 2,000-plus cases, but Piercey said five of the last six days have shown positivity rates of less than 10 percent.

Piercey said Tennessee is following a national trend with COVID-19 cases. Urban areas are the first to see a rise in cases followed by a decline. Mid-size areas and rural areas follow. She said state health officials are cautiously optimistic that a decline in rural areas is ahead.

Piercey also spoke to a decline in testing numbers this week during which Tennessee has averaged about 20,000 tests in contract to the upper 20,000s averaged two and three weeks earlier. She said they believe one reason is there are fewer sick people in the state, but she’s also concerned lengthy turnaround times for test results may have kept people away.

Piercey said laboratories aren’t facing quite the backlog they were in recent weeks, and the statewide average turnaround time is now down to about 2.5 days.

Piercey was one of several state officials to speak at Gov. Bill Lee’s COVID-19 briefing Thursday afternoon where the governor said he thinks things are moving in the right direction to have a college football season in Tennessee.

Lee referenced a recent conversation with the chancellor of the University of Tennessee. He said he asked what efforts they were making to get players back on the field.

Lee said he would do what he could to support having a football season in a safe way.

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