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Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is urging seniors who contract COVID-19 to ask their health care providers about certain drugs that could prevent them from getting so sick that they wind up in the hospital. 

Lee told reporters Friday that monoclonal antibodies are available and very effective, especially for people who are 65 or older and have underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to the virus. 

He said many people do not ask their health care providers about the treatment option. He said the drugs are effective when someone becomes sick but has not deteriorated enough to be hospitalized.

State Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said the therapeutics are 85% to 95% effective at preventing progression to severe disease. 

“We have not used our entire inventory, nowhere close to that,” Piercey said. “And so we really are trying to get the word out to seek treatment early once you test positive.”

Cumberland County reported 861 active cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the most recent data available at press time. This represented a dramatic increase from last week, when there were 743 active cases on Friday. 

Fifty-eight people have died of the illness from Cumberland County, an increase of five from last week. The county has recorded 104 hospitalizations since the pandemic began in March.

Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported Cumberland Medical Center was using 96 of the 97 available in-patient beds the week ending Jan. 1, with an average of 48.9 patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19. The 12-bed ICU unit was again using all 12 beds for patients, with an average of 9.9 patients with COVID-19. That is up from an average of 6.4 patients with COVID-19 a month earlier.

Cumberland County has recorded 4,441 confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic. That included 32 new confirmed cases on Sunday. There were 37 positive tests from the 159 tests reported.

Cumberland County schools announced Sunday they would continue remote learning for grades 3-12 through Jan. 15. There is no school on Jan. 18 in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday.

School was cancelled on Friday and Monday due to inclement weather, causing changes to the published schedule for distribution of meals for students not on campus. Meals can be picked up at any school. On Wednesday, meals will include breakfast, lunch and snacks for the entire week. Meals can be picked up from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at elementary schools and 9 a.m. to noon at Cumberland County High School and Stone Memorial High School.

Weekend meal pick up will be offered Jan. 15 for all children 18 years old and younger. The school system encourages families to pick up meals at the high school as elementary schools will have students on campus. This day will include seven days of meals.

Report cards are scheduled to go out Tuesday, with pick-up available for students in grades 3-12.

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