Tennessee has vaccinated more than 125,000 residents against COVID-19 in the few short weeks since the first vaccine became available.
While the vaccine offers a ray of hope, however, we must remain vigilant to slow the spread of the virus that continues to overwhelm health care systems and take loved ones from us too soon.
Right now, state and local health care and community leaders are working out the best way to get the vaccines to the people who need them most -- our health care workers, first responders, people living or working in nursing homes, people over the age of 75 and, in the next wave, teachers and childcare workers. There was an overwhelming response to the vaccination clinic held Saturday, announced just three days before on Wednesday. Cumberland County was able to vaccinate 981 people that day.
But right now, only 1.84% of our county population has been vaccinated. Health experts say we need more than 70% to benefit from herd immunity that makes it harder for the virus to spread unchecked.
That’s going to take a while. The state expects to get about 90,000 doses a week unless the vaccine makers are able to increase their production.
And our health care workers are feeling the impact of the holiday season. Sunday, the county reported 766 active cases. The number of patients with COVID-19 in our local hospital doubled from the week of Dec. 18 to the week of Dec. 25, according to federal hospital data. And our hospital doesn’t just serve our residents. The people of Fentress, Morgan, Bledsoe and other counties also depend on our hospital to care for their patients.
If you are sick, stay home.
If you have been exposed to the virus and are waiting for test results, stay home.
If you are going out, wear a mask and keep at least six feet of distance between yourself and others.
Cover your cough and your sneezes. Wash your hands often. Use hand sanitizer.
The pandemic isn’t over, but if we remain vigilant, we can hopefully mitigate the impact on our health and our community until more vaccine is available.