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On July 13th, Tennessee saw their largest number of daily coronavirus cases, 4,268, since the pandemic began in March. This prompted the decision by Adrienne Battle, the director of the Metro Nashville Public Schools, to begin school on August 4th remotely at least until Labor Day. Battle noted that in the last week alone the area has seen "some of the worst daily numbers" since the crisis began in March. Though Tennessee's numbers are not nearly as high as some other states, record daily highs, even if low compared to other states, are still a cause for concern. As seen in states such as Florida, California, and Arizona, cases can surge quickly and officials must pause reopening plans and work to stop the spread until cases are not increasing daily. This news to close the city’s public school system comes in tandem with announcements from other major school districts across the nation. The public school systems of Los Angeles, San Diego, New York City, Miami, Detroit, and Dallas all have announced plans to incorporate some form of remote learning for the fall. Like Nashville, San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami, and Atlanta plan to start the school year completely online until it is safe to return to in-person learning whereas New York City, Detroit, and Dallas want to incorporate a mix of in-person instruction and virtual instruction for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. As a result of the increase in cases, Nashville will remain in Phase 2 for the "foreseeable future” with bars set to remain closed until July 31st. Mayor John Cooper attributed part of the increase in cases to bar activities where people are in close contact to share respiratory droplets. Restaurants, gyms, barbershops, and other "high-touch businesses" will remain operating at 50% of their normal capacity. Retail stores are limited to 75% capacity and gatherings are capped at 25 people. As the positivity rate reaches 18%, Cooper said they are ramping up testing and hiring more contact tracers to hopefully help keep this surge in cases to a minimum. Research from George Washington University estimates Nashville needs about 1,600 contact tracers to meet its population. Like Tennessee, states must make strategic decisions in adjusting their reopening plans based on daily numbers so that they don't have to revert to a stay at home order and damage the economy even further.
Written by Margot Galligan
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