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TN Departments of Health, Education to release new data, guidance amid rise in pediatric COVID cases

The Dept. of Health said it will start offering more pediatric data on hospitalizations. The Dept. of Education said it will release guidance to districts soon.

TENNESSEE, USA — Amid ongoing concerns about rising cases of COVID-19 in children and discussions of masking in schools, Tennessee's top health and education commissioners hosted a briefing to give updates and answer questions.

Dr. Lisa Piercey, the state health commissioner, said Tennessee will start offering more pediatric data on hospitalizations and is asking children’s hospitals to report capacity.

The Department of Health is looking into RSV cases and their correlation to COVID-19 as rising cases of both viruses cause capacity concerns for children's hospitals, according to Piercey.

RELATED: East Tennessee Children's Hospital reports more than 600 RSV cases so far this season

She also said staffing issues at pediatric facilities could create problems because it’s not as easy to transfer staff from adult facilities to children’s hospitals.

Piercey said vaccination rates across the state continue to rise though she did not draw a direct correlation to Tennessee's "Give it a shot" campaign.

“We've had increased vaccine uptake among Tennesseans, and I don't really care what the reason is. I want our work to be effective but whatever it is that's causing it, I appreciate that and am encouraged by that,” Piercey said.

The department will be doing another round of research into vaccine hesitancy since the biggest reason before was the newness of the vaccine.

Dr. Penny Schwinn, the state education commissioner, said the Department of Education will release guidance soon to school districts about providing data to parents.

She said the department's goal is to have a safe and successful in-person school year, saying it’s up to local Boards of Education and parents to make the decision.