State officials hope to expand vaccine eligibility to new groups in the next few weeks, such as residents age 70 and older, workers and jails and prisons and people in households with medically frail children.
However, the state is still struggling to get enough vaccinations, and it has not seen an increase in its regular allotment as it had expected to this month after a promise from federal officials and signals of ramp-ups by manufacturers, state Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey told reporters Friday.
“I’m hopeful that that’s just like a week delay, and that we’ll start seeing something for the first week of February,” Piercey said.
The state has already been receiving a lower weekly allocation on average than was promised by the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed: 80,000 doses per week instead of 90,000. The federal reserve of second doses federal officials discussed in recent weeks has also been exhausted.
Piercey said the state could quickly open mass vaccination sites and work with retail pharmacies to administer the shots — if there were a sufficient number of vaccines.
“Within a day or two, I could deliver a 5X multiple” of vaccinations, she said. “And within a week or two, I could deliver a 10X multiple. It’s just the product that I don’t have.”
Data from the CDC shows that 4,752 out of 100,000, or about 4.8% of people in Tennessee, have received at least one or more doses of the vaccine, ranking it 23rd among the states. As of last Thursday, more than 438,000 vaccines have been administered.
Cumberland County remains in the 1a1 and 1a2 phases of the vaccine plan and offers vaccines to individuals 75 years and older. To date, about 5% of Cumberland County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
On Monday, the health department reported limited vaccine available in the county.
Other counties have already opened vaccination up to the 1b group, which includes K-12 teachers and childcare workers.
Corrections officials and jailers were recently bumped up on the list to receive a vaccine to the 1a1 category, Piercey said. They are a higher priority than inmates because of the “significant risk to both our society and perhaps our economy” if correctional facilities can't be staffed because of COVID-19, Piercey said.
Tennessee has almost finished giving first doses in all nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities, and began administering them in assisted-living facilities last week. CVS and Walgreens are handling more than 90% of the long-term care facilities in Tennessee, she said.
Additionally, Piercey said some counties could begin to inoculate people 70 or older sooner than in two or three weeks.
Sunday, Cumberland County reported 387 active cases of COVID-19. There have been 76 deaths in the county due to the illness and 116 people hospitalized since mid-March when the pandemic began.
Cumberland Medical Center reported a decrease in COVID-19 patients the week of Jan. 15, with an average of 29 patients, down from 45.3 the week before. The hospital reported it averaged 84.4 patients in the hospital that week. The hospital’s intensive care unit continued at capacity with all 12 beds used that week, but it served an average of 6.6 patients with COVID-19, down from 10.7 the week before.
The school system returned to in-person instruction on Monday following two weeks of remote learning amid a surge in local active cases. There were 10 active cases among students and 14 active cases among staff reported on Friday. Currently, 142 students and eight staff members are quarantined due to having had close contact with an individual who tested positive.
Eligible individuals can register online for a waiting list for an appointment for COVID-19 vaccination. Visit covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/eligibility, find the Cumberland County phase and determine your eligibility. Then visit www.signupgenius.com/go/cumberlandpriority. You can also call the Cumberland County Health Department at 931-484-6196 to schedule a first dose of the vaccination.
The health department will contact individuals to schedule a second dose. Those appointments will be made as doses are shipped, so you may receive a call only one or two days in advance.
The local health department also continues to provide free COVID-19 testing Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Cumberland County Community Complex. Self-testing is offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for individuals over age 18. You need a smartphone and email for self-testing.
Health department staff will provide testing on Tuesdays and Thursdays.