NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — More than 330,000 Americans died last year because of COVID-19, at least 5,990 of those in Tennessee.
Infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner believes the first few days of this new year could bring a COVID surge following the holidays. “We’re not overstretched but if we get another large surge of patients then we’re going to have to make many critical decisions within our institutions in order to care for these patients,” he said.
This comes as Tennessee is in the midst of its vaccine roll-out with nearly 80,000 people vaccinated so far. “We’re starting to vaccinate not only the health care providers in major medical centers but also now our residents of nursing homes,” said Schaffner.
The last group of Phase One vaccinations is expected to begin in March, followed by groups two and three.
To see heard immunity Schaffner said, “we’re going to have to vaccinate 70 to 80% of our population and that will take us into July, August, September for sure.”
As 2021 begins, new COVID vaccines are also in the pipeline, with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine in Phase Three, and AstraZeneca’s already approved for emergency use in Britain.
“We all in medical care are braced for a much more stressful time taking care of many more sick people,” said Schaffner, but he is cautiously optimistic 2021 could bring back a sense of normalcy as more people get vaccinated.