NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee topped 7,000 deaths from COVID-19 over the weekend as experts warned that a new surge could follow the Christmas holidays.
As of Monday, the Tennessee Department of Health was reporting 7,168 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. The state also had the third highest per capita rate of COVID-19 cases in the country last week, with a rate of 93.3 new cases per 100,000 people, according to data compiled by The Associated Press. Only Arizona and California had more cases per capita.
Tennessee's numbers were down slightly in the beginning of January after rising rapidly in the first weeks of December. The number of active confirmed cases in the state hit a peak of 85,406 on Dec. 21. As of Sunday, the state was reporting 81,331 active cases.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert, was among those warning that an additional surge is likely across the country because of holiday gatherings and the cold weather keeping people indoors. However, Fauci said recently that he sees a glimmer of hope as vaccination efforts begin to ramp up.
Meanwhile, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development was instructing residents who are eligible for federal pandemic unemployment benefits that they can begin certifying for the week ending Jan. 2. However, the department said that people who are unable to certify should not try to refile their claims. The Department will instruct claimants on when to refile once it receives final instructions from the federal government.