Tracking coronavirus: Knox County vaccination plans fluctuating, Health Department asks public to ‘rethink’ social plans


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — COVID-19 vaccination plans for Knox County continue to change daily so precautions still need to be taken.

That was the message Charity Menefee, director of communicable and environmental disease and emergency preparedness of the Knox County Health Department, gave Thursday during the department’s coronavirus briefing.

A day after KCHD released all red benchmarks for the second straight week, Menefee said the vaccination plan including number of vaccination doses available, time of delivery, priority of who gets the vaccination — outside of first responders and emergency medical personnel — and storage plans are still not concrete.

“Details are changing so rapidly,” Menefee said. “We’re not going to put all of the nuances out into the public until we are comfortable with where we are with those. … We don’t want to put misinformation out that is going to change immediately.

“We continue to encourage everybody to stay vigilant and follow all the guidelines. … What we will be getting is small amounts (of vaccine) over several months and getting those out as fast as we can.”

What is known is that KCHD will follow the Tennessee Department of Health’s plan. A copy of the state’s plan is available on the Health Department’s COVID-19 vaccination website. Menefee said initial doses will go directly to hospital providers to give to medical personnel.

Thursday saw a record eight COVID-19 deaths reported by KCHD. Seven were ages 75 and above. One was between the ages of 18 and 45. Menefee said it is unlikely the deaths are related to a surge from Thanksgiving since the incubation time is two weeks to contract the novel coronavirus.

Knox County has averaged 320 new cases of COVID-19 per day during the last seven days. That is u from 281 cases per day seen during the past 14 days.

The increasing cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to draw concern from the Health Department and area hospitals. Regardless of when a vaccine may be available, Menefee said it will like be until at least the spring when we see vaccinations have an impact on case counts.

Until then, Menefee said people need to “rethink” how they socialize.

“We still want you to connect but to not do it within six feet of people,” she said. “You need to consider that anybody you’re in contact with at this point in time could be potentially infectious, or you could be potentially infectious and you don’t know it and can be spreading it to others.”

When asked about Christmas parades and dining out, Menefee suggested you watch parades at home and to stay within your household while dining.

“If you are going to attend you need to keep at least six feet away from you and your household members at these events,” she said.

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