‘This vaccine will not cure foolish decisions’: Gov. Lee urges Tennesseans to make safe holiday choices


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A week before Christmas, the Centers for Disease Control has a warning for Americans: The only way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home and not travel.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee also said, “There is a darkness before the dawn that is happening right here in Tennessee, we have to recognize that.”

“Decisions that some made during Thanksgiving are having a severe reality in this hospital and all across Tennessee, today,” Gov. Lee said Thursday, speaking at Vanderbilt Hospital.

The words and calls for safe decisions happened on the same day frontline healthcare workers statewide got their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Lee said, in this time before and during the holidays, Tennesseans should make responsible decisions that will, “serve their neighbor in the process.”

On a day centered around hope and the future, Gov. Lee warned a vaccine is not a quick fix for the current surge in cases statewide, and would not protect against a similar surge post-Christmas.

“One thing that this vaccination will not solve, one thing that it will not cure is selfishness or indifference to what’s happening to our neighbors around us,” he said. “This vaccine will not cure foolish decisions about how we gather. It won’t cure an attitude of a refusal to wear a mask. It won’t cure the idea that, ‘I will take my chances and that that will not impact someone else’s life.”

Control what you can

A psychiatrist at Peninsula in Knoxville has advice on modifying holiday traditions. Dr. Patrick Jensen said think about what you can control, the rest, “let it go.”

He said it can be easiest to draw a circle. Anything inside the circle, you can control. Anything written outside, you cannot and therefore, it should not contribute to stress.

“Radical acceptance can be helpful,” said Jensen.

Recognizing there will be changes and modifications to holiday traditions, Jensen said, can help us prepare mentally and not be stressed.

“Whether or not you engage with the CDC guidance. Whether or not you take precautionary measures. Whether or not you’re loving on your family and friends. Focus on those things, then have the wisdom to discern the two on what you can and cannot control,” Jensen said.

CDC: Domestic Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Travel can increase your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

You and your travel companions (including children) may feel well and not have any symptoms, but you can still spread COVID-19 to family, friends, and community after travel.

If you have a known exposure to COVID-19 you should delay travelquarantine yourself from other people, get tested, and monitor your health. Check your state or local health department for information about local quarantine requirements.

Don’t travel if you are sick or test positive for COVID-19. Don’t travel with someone who is sick.

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