Now is not the time to ease up on COVID restrictions

Published 2:13 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2021

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The Tennessee Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine dashboard shows that 8.53 percent of Tennesseans have received at least one one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine with 848,930 total vaccinations reported across the state. The latest numbers show that 8,003 Carter Countians have received at least one vaccination, compared to 2,098 in Johnson County, 29,365 in Washington County, and 31,844 in Sullivan County.
This is a small percentage of Tennesseans vaccinated thus far for COVID-19, although Northeast Tennessee is outpacing the rest of the state.
Although the number of coronavirus cases are down region-wide as well as the number of hospitalizations, it is no time to ease back on restrictions. We must still continue to wear masks when we go out to the grocery store, Wal-Mart, to church, and other public gatherings. We must continue to practice social distancing and wash our hands often.
It has been great news that hospitalizations have been decreasing steadily this month, but thus far, too few have received both required doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. The state just last week began vaccinating people 70 and older, and it will take time to complete that portion of the effort to vaccinate a large portion of our state’s residents.
Now is not the time to lift restrictions as it would run the risk of indicating to people who haven’t liked wearing masks and practicing social distancing anyway that they don’t have to take any precautions now.
We’re still in the early days of this vaccination effort and we have a long way to go before everyone gets vaccinated. So, it’s critical we continue to limit virus spread. Wearing mask, washing hands, and staying home when you’re sick are the best tools to fight against COVID-19
The Tennessee Department of Health reported 52 new COVID-19 cases, seven new deaths, and 86 new inactive/recovered cases in Northeast Tennessee on Monday. This is good news as Carter County reported only five new cases Monday.
Throughout the state, we have taken to heart all the health officials’ warnings that we need to always wear masks when in public and try to stay at least 6 feet away from other people. We have made great strides in reducing the number of new cases in our state and the number of deaths related to COVID-19.
Tennessee has been a deep red state when it came to the number of people having the coronarvirus. The numbers have begun to come down in recent days. We had low numbers last fall and then saw how quickly they could rise again in November and December. Until our vaccine supply increases significantly and our state is able to vaccinate hundreds of thousands more people we must remain vigilant.
The numbers are down region wide, but so is testing.
We’re not where we need to be yet, so don’t become complacent.
Continue to wear your mask in public. Wash your hands often. Practice social distancing.
We will beat this virus, but it still will be months before we can begin to return to “normal.”

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