Tennessee is now "ground zero" for the surge in COVID-19 cases

Tennessee has emerged as an epicenter of the latest COVID-19 surge in the U.S., as the state has recorded the highest rate of new infections over the past week, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.

The state averaged nearly 128 new infections per 100,000 people over the last week, the highest of any other state. California has recorded the second-highest rate, with 111.2 daily infections per 100,000 people. Tennessee has reported more than 546,000 cases and 6,430 deaths, according to the state health department…

Health officials on Sunday also warned the state could “break” its hospital systems if residents didn’t slow the spread by staying home and wearing masks.

“We want to preserve access to hospitals. If we have another surge over Christmas, it will break our hospitals,” Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said during a news conference, according to the Tennessean.