Greene County endures COVID-19 increases and vaccine hesitation in 2021 | Local news
Greene County endures COVID-19 increases and vaccine hesitation in 2021 |  Local news

Greene County endures COVID-19 increases and vaccine hesitation in 2021 | Local news

Even when COVID-19 vaccines became widely available in 2021, Greene County still endured two record-breaking COVID-19 waves in the latter part of the year.

COVID-19 vaccines became widely available in Greene County in the spring of 2021, and residents lined up at the former Greene Valley Developmental Center to receive their vaccines in a drive-through line.

But as the summer season approached, the rate at which the Greene Countians were vaccinated began to decline.

The number of cases of COVID-19 also began to decline as summer came, but low cases would not hold.

As the delta variant of COVID-19 swept through the nation, Greene County saw an increase in COVID-19 cases beginning in late July, culminating in a new daily record for new COVID-19 cases on a day in the county in September.

On Sept. 10, Greene County recorded 244 new COVID-19 cases in a single day, breaking the previous 144-day single-day record set in December 2020, according to data provided by the Tennessee Department of Health.

When the delta increase began in late July, only about 34% of Greene County residents were fully vaccinated, and Ballad officials sounded the alarm that this low vaccination rate was driving up infections and hospitalizations in the region.

On September 8, at the top of the delta wave, Ballad took care of a record number of COVID-19 patients with 413 people in the region hospitalized with the virus.

“The only way to end this is to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” Ballad Chief Infection Prevention Officer Jamie Swift told a news conference in September.

Ballad reported that 94% of COVID-19 patients in the hospital in September were unvaccinated.

The Delta hike triggered a bump in vaccinations in Greene County, and by mid-November, about 43% of the county had been fully vaccinated. That was about a 10% increase over a period of 3 months.

COVID-19 cases in the county also began to decline in November, but the arrival of the omicron variant in late December led to the largest and sharpest increase yet in the county’s COVID-19 cases.

According to state data. Greene County registered 46 new COVID-19 cases on Dec. 20. One month later, on January 20, Greene County recorded 308 new COVID-19 cases in one day, beating the daily record set in September.

A record number of admissions to Ballad facilities followed quickly.

On February 7, Ballad cared for 454 COVID-19 patients in his hospitals, and as with the delta increase, most of the patients admitted with COVID-19 were unvaccinated.

Ballad took care of 434 COVID-19 patients on February 9, and 84% of these patients were unvaccinated.

The Omicron rise slowed almost as fast as it arrived when Covid-19 levels in the county had only fallen about a month later to the lowest levels they had been since the end of July 2021.

It was the deadliest year of the Greene County pandemic, with 196 Greene County residents losing their lives to COVID-19 in 2021 compared to 92 in 2020.

It was also the most contagious year, as both the delta and omicron variants of the virus proved to be highly contagious.

According to state data, Greene County experienced 15,352 COVID-19 cases in 2021 compared to 5,641 recorded cases in 2020.

Greene County Health Department at 810 W. Church St. offers free COVID-19 vaccines. No appointment is required. However, those who prefer to book an appointment can go to vaccinatetn.gov or call the Department of Health at 423-798-1749.

Adults 18 years of age and older are eligible for all COVID-19 vaccines, while children 5 years of age and older are eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

The Ministry of Health also offers COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to those eligible.

According to the Tennessee Department of Health statement, while the antiviral drugs now available can help treat COVID-19, vaccination is the best approach to prevent infection.

COVID-19 testing takes place at the county health department. PCR testing of a nurse is available 8: 30-9: 30 a.m. on Tuesdays. Self-test kits are available from the Greene County Health Department Monday through Friday.

The National Board of Health is open 8.30-16.00 Monday to Friday.

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