Lee encourages masks in schools

During a press conference Wednesday, Governor Bill Lee urged families to “make informed decisions” to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as case counts continue to surge.  

Lee said that some of the measures that parents can take to slow the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant could include sending children to school wearing masks especially if they are under 12 years old and currently ineligible to get the vaccine.  Lee, who earlier this month issued an Executive Order allowing parents to opt their child or children out of any mask mandate enacted by a school board or local health department, stopped short of issuing such a mandate, instead reiterating his stance that all health-related decisions for children need to be made by their parents or guardians.

Lee also said people who contract COVID-19 may have the option to undergo a monoclonal antibody treatment, which works to boost their immune response early in the infection and can help them recover more quickly and keep them out of the emergency room.

Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercy said that there has been a significant increase in the number of young people getting vaccinated for COVID-19, and re-emphasized that it is the most effective tool for preventing hospitalizations.

Piercy says that most of the people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 have not been vaccinated. Roughly half of all ICU beds across the state were being used by COVID-19 patients as of Wednesday afternoon. 

Officials also said that the biggest increase in new cases has been among kids between 5 and 13 years old.   In lieu of a vaccine, which has not yet been approved for use in kids under the age of 12 years old, everyone is encouraged to continue to wash their hands, practice social distancing and wear masks.

Clinton Middle College & Career Academy has been placed under a mask mandate after the total number of cases among staff and students eclipsed the 2% threshold, joining four other Anderson County schools that are also requiring masks indoors.  Of course, in compliance with the governor’s executive order, parents can opt their child out of the requirement by filling out a form on the school system’s Skyward system.  Masks will be required until 10 days after the school’s last day above that 2% threshold.

As always, find the latest COVID-related information, including county-by-county data, you can visit www.Covid19.tn.gov.  To find a vaccine provider near you, and to schedule a vaccination appointment, visit www.vaccinefinder.org.    

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