Health officials address uptick in COVID-19 cases, omicron variant

JACKSON, Tenn. — Regional Director of the Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department, Kim Tedford gave an update on how COVID-19 is doing in our region.

health department

“Since our surge back in the end of the summer, beginning of the fall, we’ve seen it kind of steady, kind of taper off. Our hospital is in a lot better shape than it was back during the surge. We’ve seen a decrease in the number of new cases,” Tedford said.

The health department confirmed an additional 141 new COVID-19 cases, as well as one death just since last Wednesday.

But they say it is an upward trend that was expected with it being the holiday season.

“Just because of people gathering for the holiday, getting together with family, households coming together that had not been together previously. So we actually started seeing that increase in the last couple of weeks,” Tedford said.

She says Thanksgiving has already caused a significant increase of cases, and says health officials also anticipate Christmas having the same effect.

“What we hope is that beyond the holiday season, those numbers will go back down and start being steady again,” Tedford said.

Tedford says while many people may think since COVID-19 cases are not as high as last year, they can just relax. However, she says that is not the case.

“I think some people think it is over and that they could just go back and do exactly what they did before. That’s not the case. The pandemic is not over,” Tedford said.

Tedford says health officials are still encouraging initial vaccinations and booster shots for everyone.

“Booster doses are available for those that got the two dose series of Pfizer and Moderna six months after they completed their series. Or if they got the J&J vaccine, two months after,” Tedford said.

She says this is important at this point with Tennessee being ranked a highly transmissible state for COVID-19.

And now with the omicron variant being just two states over, she talked about a study done in South Africa regarding the new variant and COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness.

“While there was a decrease, which was a little disturbing, it still means that our vaccines, hopefully, will work. Especially against severe illness and hospitalizations,” Tedford said.

Tedford says not much is known about omicron variant just yet, but it’s important to stay up-to-date with new information.

Tedford says until more is known about the new variant, she encourages you to wash your hands, get vaccinated, get your booster and wear a mask in crowded indoor spaces when social distancing isn’t an option.

You can also find a vaccine near you by using this tool.

For more information on COVID-19, go to the CDC website, the Tennessee Department of Health website or call (877) 857-2945.

Additional COVID-19 information can be found in the “COVID-19” tab of the website.

You can find local news through the WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News app.

Categories: COVID-19 Updates, Local News, News, Video