NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As the Labor Day weekend gets underway, Tennessee ranks first in the country for the number of new COVID-19 cases per capita. As a result, a local infectious disease expert is encouraging people to take precautions while celebrating the holiday.
"A lot of people are doing it smaller this year and staying at home rather than traveling so far," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "Delta is still out there, and I’m afraid in our state, too many people are going around unvaccinated."
When it comes to travel, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending unvaccinated people stay home. Dr. Schaffner said driving is a safer option than flying because it is a more controlled environment. He said masks need to be worn before, during and after the trip. Once you arrive at your destination, you also need to be cautious about what kind of activities you participate in.
"Smaller events are better than larger events," said Dr. Schaffner. "Outdoor events are lower risk than indoor events, for sure. Avoid large gatherings, especially indoor events."
If you plan on spending time with kids who are too young to be vaccinated, Dr. Schaffner says masks need to be worn indoors and outdoors.
"I hope we are all vaccinated and I hope everyone we are in contact with is vaccinated," said Dr. Schaffner. "Wear that mask, even if you are outside."
Dr. Schaffner said in addition to wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing need to be part of your holiday weekend plans. He said the best protection is to get vaccinated.
"Enjoy the labor day weekend, but please do it with caution," said Dr. Schaffner.