Hamilton County Commissioners discuss Delta concerns and vaccination rates

HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn (WDEF) – The CDC is advising people to go back to wearing masks specifically while in areas with elevated infection rates- and unfortunately that includes Hamilton County.

This new statement was the topic of today’s County Commission meeting as local officials and health experts discussed  concerns for the future.

“All the numbers are going in the wrong direction as far as cases, hospitalizations, spread, clusters. It’s almost like we are back in the same situation before we had vaccinations,” says Becky Barnes, Hamilton County Health Department Administrator. 

Currently, Hamilton County is seeing over 100 new cases daily-and  almost all are the highly infectious delta variant. 

“When we had the vaccinations become available-people needed to make some choices. Unfortunately we still have some people who aren’t making good choices. We are seeing a lot of our younger population becoming ill and hospitalized, which is bothersome. We did experience 3 deaths yesterday. I just hope we have a population that’s paying attention,” says Mayor Jim Coppinger, Hamilton County. 

During Wednesday’s commission meeting, Commissioners Warren Mackey, Katherlyn Geter and David Sharpe expressed concerns over Hamilton County’s low vaccination rates.

 “People need to grow up and act like adults. Get their vaccinations and protect those in our community who can’t,” says Commissioner David Sharpe, District 6

Health Officials say that no one thing is to blame for the  recent surge,  but mask negligence is a major contributing  factor.

“If you go anywhere nobody is wearing a mask anymore. We know in Tennessee that not everybody is fully vaccinated so what happened is everybody quit wearing a mask so we’re back into the same situation where we were before,” says Barnes.

The CDC also suggests that K-12 schools make masks mandatory again-regardless of vaccination rates.

“That’s like Hamilton County Schools making masks optional. That’s like an umbrella is optional in a rainstorm – you don’t have to use one but if you don’t you will get soaking wet. I’m just a parent who is scared to death that my six year old is going to get Covid and die,” says Sharpe.

Hamilton County Schools provided a statement “We are on track for students coming back to school on August 12th and will continue with mitigation strategies that allowed us to be in person 90% of last school year. Masks will be optional for all students and staff—as they have been since June 1. We will continue monitoring local COVID-19 case counts and updates around the Delta variant. We also plan to continue contact tracing, promote social distancing when possible, recommend frequent hand washing, and encourage vaccinations for those who are eligible. It’s also worth noting that nearly 70% of our teachers are vaccinated.”

Hamilton County Officials are suggesting that residents follow the new CDC guidelines and that they will continue to monitor the Covid situation in our area.  

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