Face masks are gradually coming off but vaccinations numbers are not rising

Published 1:52 pm Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Food City announced Monday that beginning Thursday fully vaccinated customers, employees can forego masks in stores if they have been fully vaccinated, other businesses are doing the same.
This comes after the CDC’s rollback on face masks. It’s encouraging news for some, but disturbing to others.
The deal is that you must be vaccinated. Not everyone has been vaccinated. In fact, the COVID-19 vaccination rate is lower in Carter County than anywhere else in Northeast Tennessee. In fact, as vaccines have become more available, the rate has dropped locally. Only about a fourth of the residents in Carter County have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
We’ve been pushing vaccinations as the right thing to do and the best way to protect yourself and others against this deadly virus.
Lest we forget, 158 Carter Countians have died from COVID-19. Many others suffered from it and recovered. With the vaccination rates in Carter County the lowest in the Northeast Tennessee region, some who work in Carter County said they still have some degree of concern when they are around other people because of the uncertainty of whether people have gotten vaccinated.
Our health district has been doing everything it can to get us protected, but as the number of sick people has been dropping, many also have been lulled into thinking that the virus isn’t a threat anymore.
That’s not the case.
There still are about 670 people dying per day across the United States because of COVID-19. More than 575,000 people have died in the U.S. since the pandemic began
According to the TN Dept. of Health, Carter County is ranked 68th in Tennessee for first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered, which is 10 percent behind the state average and nearly 9 percent behind the region.
The Carter County Health Department has started offering more walk-in clinics for the shot instead of requiring appointments to make it easier to get vaccinated. The vaccine is also available at pharmacies in our area, and this week the Take A Shot on Life campaign, sponsored by the First Tennessee Development District is planning vaccination events in Carter County.
For those of us who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, the experience has brought a feeling of relief. We know we have done what we need to do to protect ourselves and others. As long as we wear a mask in crowded places and practice social distancing as much as possible, we can feel confident that we will remain healthy. Yes, because we don’t know who out there has not been vaccinated.
Just like we are urged each year to get a flu shot so we don’t have to deal with that disease that can be deadly but poses much less of a threat than COVID-19, the CDHD continues to urge that everyone gets vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The goal remains to come out on the other side of the pandemic and reach a point when so many people are vaccinated that we can be confident to return to going out in public without masks.
But we aren’t there yet – not when 75 percent of Carter Countians have not been vaccinated.

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