SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Sullivan County health officials warn of the Delta variant health threat as it moves into northeastern Tennessee.
Dr. Stephen May of the Sullivan County Regional Health Department said Sullivan County has seen at least two cases of the variant so far.
“I do not have the specifications for each case,” said Dr. May. “There’s definitely a lot of travel going on, and we don’t use a lot of good security measures anymore, such as masking and safe distance.”
May said the most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to get vaccinated.
Dr. May said the variant is approx. twice as likely to infect someone as the B.1.1.7 or Alpha variant seen in the area for a while.
“That’s the biggest concern,” May said. “It spreads so easily, and of course we have those who are at high risk who are either not vaccinated or do not use the appropriate safety precautions.”
On Friday, Ballad Health published a statement about the variant.
“As cases about the delta variant have now been confirmed in the Appalachian Highlands, Ballad Health is asking everyone in our region to take this potentially deadly new strain seriously. Essentially, we encourage everyone in our community to take advantage of the opportunity to receive a safe, free and 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 spread of the virus, vaccines remain the most effective tool for protecting yourself and those around you. Early data show the effectiveness of current vaccines against this delta variant – with some studies showing 90% efficacy against COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths – so it is crucial for all 12 and older to get their vaccine as soon as possible. Be aware of all COVID-19 updates and do everything you can to protect our region from this virus. ”
“It’s not time to let go of our guard,” said Dr. May. “It’s time to go in and get your vaccine.”