Atlanta TV stations experienced additional tension on an already difficult story when Piedmont Hospital officials tried to deny WXIA-TV and WSB-TV reports that Sen. Paul Coverdell had died Tuesday night. A hospital spokeswoman said that, although the senator was in serious condition and in intensive care, he was still alive. But it turned out that the stations were correct and Coverdell had indeed passed away at the time both stations reported it. WSB-TV anchor John Pruitt had given a conditional apology-adding a personal prayer that the report was wrong-while on air with hospital officials, who were apparently unaware Coverdell had died. "It was the prudent thing to do" in an awkward situation, said News Director Ray Carter, who said the station had been tipped to Coverdell's death by Washington sources and had confirmed it by another source before going on the air.