TN Dept. of Health gives COVID-19 update amid potential second surge
JACKSON, TENN. — As we approach Christmas with consistently increasing COVID-19 cases, state health officials are hoping to mitigate the spread of of the virus.
Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Doctor Lisa Piercey says health officials are not only concerned about public gatherings, but also gatherings in homes.
“The number one thing driving both the Thanksgiving surge and the potential Christmas surge is small gatherings,” Piercey says.
Monday afternoon, Dr. Piercey addressed the current state of COVID-19. She says Governor Bill Lee believes issuing a mask mandate isn’t the right approach to stop the spread of this virus. Instead he created an executive order to limit gathering sizes.
“When people get together, if they’re in their house, they’re likely not wearing a mask and so a mask mandate wouldn’t apply in one’s home. What we need to do is stop gathering and transmitting it to one another,” Piercey says.
Piercey says they hope the vaccine will start to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as the state sees peak numbers of positive cases.
“Probably the best news of the weekend was that we are getting an unexpected shipment of an additional 40,000 doses of Pfizer,” Piercey says.
The additional doses of Pfizer are expected to arrive Tuesday or Wednesday. Piercey says the state has a goal of vaccinating 200,000 Tennesseans by the end of 2020. 16,000 people statewide have already been vaccinated as of Monday afternoon.
“The top of mind for us right now is preserving health care infrastructure and reducing demand by getting vaccines to the highest risk individuals,” Piercey says.
Piercey says the draft phases of the vaccine are still being altered as new recommendations come out from the CDC, potentially prioritizing teachers.
“Teachers are super important to keeping our economy going and our society going. I anticipate you will see some changes in our prioritization part 1 coming up pretty shortly,”
As for long term care facilities, Monday December 28th, pharmacies will begin administering the Moderna vaccine to staff and residents.