Health officials focus on injections and masks as outbreak rises


NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) – As hospitalizations, deaths and the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Tennessee, health experts pleaded with the public on Friday to get vaccinated and continue wearing a mask.

In a letter distributed by the Tennessee Hospital Association, a group of general managers and head nurses pointed out that the latest wave of the virus outbreak is taking a heavy toll on frontline workers across the state and wreaking havoc. in families who have lost loved ones to the virus.

“We mourn the family members as we watch them say their final farewells,” the letter said. “We are also frustrated that simple steps that could dramatically reduce the loss of life are not being taken by all Tennesséens.”

As of Friday, there were nearly 1,395 new cases per 100,000 population in Tennessee over the past two weeks, which ranks third in the country in new cases per capita. One in 134 people in Tennessee tested positive last week, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins.

Meanwhile, 42.1% of the population is now fully vaccinated against the virus.

Governor Bill Lee told reporters earlier this week that the vaccine was the key tool to overcome the epidemic. But he said he had “no plan” to change the state’s current pandemic mitigation strategy. Lee, a Republican, has been criticized by some medical experts and Democrats for failing to apply tougher measures to tackle the virus.

Masks are a key virus prevention tool that are most effective when worn by large numbers of people, according to public health experts. The CDC has recommended them again for schools, saying they do not pose health risks to children older than toddlers.

However, Lee recently signed an executive order allowing parents to opt out of the mask requirement. Since then, hundreds of students have taken courses without a mask. Two lawsuits have since been filed in an attempt to overturn the statewide order.

As of this week, children accounted for nearly 40% of the cases reported by the state. Hundreds of students across Tennessee have been forced into self-quarantine or self-isolation due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some schools have closed classrooms, while others have temporarily switched to virtual learning.

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