COVID is still with us, don’t ignore it, take precautions

Published 11:28 am Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Tennessee and much of the nation seeks to move on from COVID as a new variant has appeared this summer and fall. As one doctor said, “Get used to it, but not over it.”
There are new reports almost every week of COVID cases in area hospitals, nursing homes, and now, in schools. More than three years since COVID first arrived, the viruses that cause it continue to mutate. So far, the latest variant does not appear to make people sicker than earlier subvariants.
The latest report from the Tennessee Department of Health (Oct. 14) revealed that Carter County had a daily case rate of 11.1 cases per 100,000 residents, and the seven days leading up to Oct. 14, Carter County averaged 236 tests daily with an average positive rate of 9.7 percent.
The Tennessee Department of Health said it is continuing to monitor cases, noting that the Omicron variant hasn’t disappeared, and can still make some people very sick. Currently, COVID cases are rising nationwide, with the Centers for Disease Control’s Data Tracker showing a weekly total of 3,907, or more than 550 per day as of Oct. 1.
And then there’s long COVID, a “spectrum of disease” that can linger for a long time after a person has been infected with the virus. Health officials say being vaccinated reduces the risk of long COVID.
In Tennessee, COVID-19 has claimed 28,669 lives as of January this year, according to Tennessee Department of Health data. For perspective, the 2020 U.S. Census estimated the population of Carroll County in West Tennessee is 28,440.
Despite COVID-19’s persistence and potential lethality, many just seem tired of it. Folks have not embraced an ongoing keeping-your-guard-up approach. We need to keep our guard…stay updated on vaccines. Health officials say vaccination is key to dealing with COVID going forward. The vaccines aren’t perfect, no vaccine is, particularly against a constantly mutating and contagious virus with COVID. People who have had COVID will also have a level of immunity from having had the disease, but vaccines account for much of the progress made against COVID-19.
Health officials say that Tennessee is largely back to normal and that is largely because of the vaccine. It’s been more than two years since the COVID-19 vaccine rolled out. In that time, 1- million Tennesseans have rolled up their sleeves to receive the three vaccines and boosters. Health officials say vaccination is the best defense against COVID and protecting against severe outcomes, including death.
Think of it like wearing seat belts in your car, he said. If you have never been in a serious car accident, you may decide seat belts aren’t necessary. A similar thing may happen with people who don’t get vaccinated for COVID and don’t get sick, he continued. Four out of five people infected with COVID experience very few symptoms. The other 20% do get sick and some of them have serious symptoms; some will die, he said. The problem is that you’re OK until you’re not OK.
Scientists say COVID is here to stay. New vaccines will continue to be developed to deal with new strains of the virus that causes COVID. New COVID vaccines will be rolled out each year, similar to each year’s new seasonal influenza vaccine.
So, what can you do to stay healthy? Be fully vaccinated and boosted adhering to updated CDC guidelines. If you are elderly or have underlying health conditions, you should manage the conditions via your health provider and avoid crowded poorly ventilated venus and mask when appropriate. Also, continue with good sanitary practices: wash hands and avoid touching the face and eyes. If you choose not to wear a mask, support those who do. They may be taking care of someone who isn’t healthy and they don’t want to bring the virus home to them.
It’s all about personal responsibility.

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