As the rollout for COVID-19 vaccines continues, the Tennessee Department of Health has created several new tools providing information about eligibility for vaccines, status of availability per county and general facts.
This vaccination information is in addition to the data the Department of Health provides daily about coronavirus case counts and related data.
According to Monday’s state update, Greene County had 28 new cases of the virus reported, and 866 people had active cases of the illness. Since the pandemic began, 6,322 people have contracted COVID-19 and 5,353 people are considered to have inactive cases, having surpassed the 14-day mark past a positive test or onset of symptoms without being hospitalized at that point.
No new deaths were recorded for the county on Monday. A total of 103 people have died from the virus locally since last March. Across Tennessee, 7,865 people have died from the virus.
The state reported 3,527 new cases in Tennessee on Monday. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 657,396 people have contracted the virus in the state.
An additional person from Greene County was hospitalized for treatment of the virus in the 24 hours covered in Monday’s report. Since last March, 151 people have required hospitalization to treat the virus.
According to its daily COVID-19 scorecard, Ballad Health had 335 patients with the virus hospitalized, with four admitted with symptoms while awaiting test results. The system also reported that 69 of the virus patients were in intensive care units with 43 on ventilators.
The positivity rate, an indication of how widespread the virus is in a community, continues to be above 30% for the region, according to Ballad Health. On Monday, the rate was 32.2% for the past seven days in the region, or more than three in 10 people tested having positive results.
For Greene County, the positivity rate for the past seven days was 22.6%, reflecting that close to one in four people tested had positive results.
With the various stages called for in the state’s vaccine distribution plan, the Health Department has created an interactive map that provides county specific information. The map is at the following link: https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/vaccine-phases/.
By clicking on Greene County on the map, a pop-up box indicated on Monday that vaccine distribution for the risk-based phase is in 1b and the age-based phase is for 75 and over.
The box also indicates whether vaccine is available, provides a phone number to call for an appointment and a link to make an appointment online. A link below the map also provides information about vaccine availability in each county in the state. On Monday, there was no vaccine available in Greene County.
Tennessee’s vaccination distribution plan provides for inoculations based upon individual risks grouped into phases while simultaneously providing them to individuals in a certain age group.
Thus far, two vaccines have been authorized for emergency use. Both of these, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, require two doses for best protection against the virus. The vaccines both work by providing the body a recipe to a protein on the outside of coronavirus, thus training the immune system to produce antibodies against the real virus if it is contracted.
According to the map, 93 of the 95 counties in the state are providing vaccines for people 75 years of age and older. Information about the age group distribution was not available for Davidson and Shelby counties on Monday.
Davidson and Shelby counties were also the only counties listed as having not progressed from the initial risk group phase including hospital staff and other high exposure health care workers, first responders, long term care facility residents and staff and adults who are not able to live independently due to a medical condition or disability.
A majority of counties were listed in the phase on Monday which includes inoculating outpatient health care workers with direct patient exposure and funeral and mortuary service staff.
Greene County was one of about 38 counties in the phase to provide vaccines to K-12 school staff and child care teachers and staff as well as other first responders who have not yet received the vaccine.
To help people determine where they fall in the plan, the Department of Health has a digital tool on its website that will provide information about when a person will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. its link is https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/eligibility/.
The tool takes a few minutes to complete and asks questions about a person’s work environment, health conditions and age to determine which phase that individual would fall under. It also provides a place for a person to submit an email or telephone number to receive notification when their home county enters that phase.
The state also has a page with answers to commonly asked questions about the vaccine. In addition, the Health Department is creating brief videos to answer specific questions.
VIRUS TREATMENT, TESTING
The Health Department also continues to provide updates about the coronavirus as more is learned about the illness.
For example, the state provided information recently about a treatment, monoclonal antibodies, that has proven highly effective in preventing severe illness for older adults and those who are at highest risk for hospitalization from the virus due to a chronic medical condition.
In November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for a monoclonal antibody treatment for mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in individuals who are at high risk of developing a severe case of the illness and hospitalization.
The treatment has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization or duration of a hospital stay if the treatment is administered soon after a person is infected with the virus, but has not shown effectiveness if used after a person is hospitalized and is receiving oxygen support, according to the FDA.
State Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said the therapeutics are 85% to 95% effective at preventing progression to severe disease.
“We have not used our entire inventory, nowhere close to that,” Piercey said. “And so we really are trying to get the word out to seek treatment early once you test positive.”
If a person has symptoms of the virus, the state encourages them to get tested and ask about the treatment if they are positive.
Several options are available for testing, including free testing five days a week by the Greene County Health Department at the former Greene Valley Developmental Center campus on East Andrew Johnson Highway.
Tests are being administered 8:30-11:30 a.m. Monday-Friday at the former Greene Valley Developmental Center site on East Andrew Johnson Highway. No appointment is necessary.
At the Greene Valley testing site, self-testing kits will be offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to adults with results available online. Testing will be available for those under age 18 and adults who are not able to register online may receive the standard nasal swab tests on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Free self-swab tests are now available at the CVS Pharmacy location on the Asheville Highway for those who meet Centers for Disease Control qualifications. An appointment is required and can be made at CVS.com.
Ballad Health asks anyone concerned they may have the virus to call the system’s Nurse Connect line at 833-822-5523 to be scheduled for testing at the individual’s nearest testing site. The line is active 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Tests may also be scheduled using the Ballad Health app or on its website. Testing is taking place at Greeneville Community Hospital West at 401 Takoma Ave.