SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Sullivan County health officials are warning of the health threat of the Delta variant as it moves into Northeast Tennessee.
Dr. Stephen May with the Sullivan County Regional Health Department said Sullivan County has seen at least two cases of the variant so far.
“I don’t have the specifics on each individual case,” Dr.May said. “Certainly there’s a lot of travel going on, and we’re not really utilizing a lot of good safety measures anymore, such as masking and safe distancing.”
May said the number one thing you can do to protect yourself is to get vaccinated.
Dr. May said that the variant is about twice as likely to infect someone as the B.1.1.7 or Alpha variant that has been seen in the area for a while.
“That’s the biggest concern,” May said. “It gets spread so easily, and, of course, we have those who are high-risk, who are either not vaccinated or are not using the appropriate safety measures.”
On Friday, Ballad Health released a statement on the variant.
“With cases of the delta variant now confirmed in the Appalachian Highlands, Ballad Health implores everyone in our region to take this potentially deadly new strain seriously. Chiefly, we exhort everyone in our communities to take advantage of the opportunity to receive a safe, free, effective COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible. While infection prevention measures such as masking, avoiding crowds and practicing hand hygiene can help curb the virus’ spread, vaccines remain the most effective tool to protect yourself and those around you. Early data demonstrates the effectiveness of the current vaccines against this delta variant — with some studies showing 90% efficacy against COVID-related hospitalizations and death — so it is crucial for everyone 12 and older to get their vaccine as soon as possible. Please remain vigilant about all COVID-19 updates and do all you can to protect our region from this virus.”
“Now is not the time to drop our guard,” Dr. May said. “This is the time to go in and get your vaccine.”