State health officials tout vaccines amid surge

State health officials reiterated Monday that vaccinations are still the best tool to fight COVID-19 as cases surge across the state.

Mirroring the recent surge nationally, Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said Monday that over 90% of new COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state are among the unvaccinated, as well as approximately 90% of those who are currently hospitalized.

“The vaccine is the single best tool we have to fight COVID-19,” Piercey said.

Driven by the Delta variant, cases in Tennessee have surged from a few hundred per day about a month ago to an average of almost 1,900 per day. According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, the commissioner said Monday that the unvaccinated make up more than 93 percent of new cases and 95 percent of deaths.

As the number of cases have gone up, vaccinations have also increased, according to Piercey, but, citing data from the state, Oak Ridge Today reports that only about 43% of Anderson County residents are fully vaccinated, which is slightly above the state’s vaccination rate of approximately 40%.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital said it was treating four patients for COVID-19 in its Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

Officials with ETCH said Tuesday that hospitalizations for children are increasing, and strongly encouraged “vaccination against COVID-19 for children who are eligible to receive the vaccine.”

In a media statement, Children’s officials encourage people to get vaccinated because “while it is not complete protection from contracting COVID-19, it is the best defense against becoming seriously ill, especially with this more contagious Delta variant circulating.”

For more coverage, and analysis of the latest data, visit our partners at www.oakridgetoday.com.

For more on COVID-19 in the state of Tennessee, visit www.covid19.tn.gov, where you can find updated county-by-county data and information on how and where to get the vaccine.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:30 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, and cats Oliver, Bow and Libby.

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