As ommicron looms, Tennessee braces for another winter of COVID-19 – Community News

As ommicron looms, Tennessee braces for another winter of COVID-19

Tennessee is likely to experience a fifth wave of the coronavirus, with or without the new ommicron variant, in the coming months, as the virus circulates among extended families who travel and gather during the holidays, according to a well-known expert on health issues. infectious diseases.

This incoming wave should be less severe than last winter’s wave, which flooded hospitals and killed thousands, as half of Tennessee’s residents are now vaccinated and others are resistant to previous infection.

But at least some form of new wave is expected. Other states have already been swept up. And there are early signs that it started here as well.

dr. William Schaffner, a virus expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said the seeds of the next wave were planted last week when Tennesseans gathered for Thanksgiving, after which COVID-19 was “circulated with the turkey and the cranberry sauce.”

“Tennessee has large communities and therefore extended families, where there is very little or no vaccination,” Schaffner said. “Those are the environments that give this delta virus — no matter how contagious — a chance to keep finding people who are unprotected or whose protection is waning.”

dr.  William Schaffner

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The holiday week also gave rise to the ommicron variant, a highly mutated strain of the coronavirus that has caused global alarms but is not yet fully understood. The variant has not yet been detected in Tennessee, but is expected to reach the state in time.

Even before the discovery of the new variant, hospitals were “high alert” to a new wave, in part because they haven’t fully recovered from the latter, said Dr. Wendy Long, president of the Tennessee Hospital Association.