NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee is back on COVID-19 watch as cases in the north are beginning to resurge and parts of Tennessee are seeing community spread that is outpacing the state.

Many hope this could be the year things return back to normal around the Thanksgiving table. But just as families are gearing to gather, COVID is rearing its head.

“We have to be very alert about COVID because COVID has not gone away, it’s still being transmitted, fortunately not yet, unlike some, the northern states, we haven’t seen a substantial uptick, but we’re not going down anymore,” Dr. William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center said.

Recent Tennessee Department of Health data showed northeast Tennessee outpacing statewide COVID infections. East Tennessee’s Ballad Health saw an increase in virus patients.

“I’m afraid COVID continues to be driven by folks who are unvaccinated,” Schaffner said.

Tennessee’s COVID positivity rate is nearly 14% in the last seven days. “I think that we feel more comfortable traveling to get together with family,” Gilmore said.

Doctors say it could take some time before we get back to pre-pandemic. “I think we still all need to be cautious particularly those of us such as myself who have grey hair, people with underlying illnesses of one kind or another that predispose them to severe disease — careful, cautious and vaccinated is the way to get through this holiday season,” Schaffner said.

Just under 50% of Tennessee’s population is fully vaccinated with shots and boosters widely available.