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Organizations advise on new variants

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

The ever-present fear of the last few years has been the COVID-19 pandemic. As people began to relax health precautions, the Delta variant struck with what officials claim is a far higher transmission rate than the Alpha variant. Experts are claiming the basic reproductive number (Ro) is as infectious as Chickenpox. Now local officials are stepping up to encourage the public to take this coronavirus seriously.

“I just want to comment on the COVID-19 Delta variant,” City Mayor Jerry Jordan announced. “This is a major concern. It’s pretty well a proven fact that the vaccination helps slow the COVID down, and if you do get the Delta variant with COVID, it’s not nearly as hard. I’ve been vaccinated, and I want to encourage everyone to get vaccinated. We’re probably going to have to wear masks the way this is looking. It’s very contagious.”

The Town of Mountain City is not the only entity to recommend changes. After releasing its Back to School Plan, Johnson County Schools officials made updates right before schools go back into session. One of the changes includes minimizing sizable group interaction by going straight to classrooms once students enter the school building. 

“Due to the recent increase in COVID cases in our county, we will temporarily be opening our school buildings at 7:45 a.m. each morning, and the students will go directly to their classrooms,” Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox said in a recent release. “The TN Department of Health has recommended that we limit large groups from being together indoors as much as possible to help decrease exposure among large groups of students. We remain committed to having school in person, and this is a measure to help ensure that happens. We do plan for this to be temporary, and as COVID cases start to decrease, we will evaluate this and return to a 7:30 start time as soon as we can.”

Johnson County has taken several precautions during the pandemic to increase sanitation, including purchasing cleaning equipment. The county suggests following all safety precautions to try and decrease the spread of this pandemic.

“It is very important that we take this current uptick in positive cases seriously,” County Mayor Mike Taylor told The Tomahawk. “I would recommend that anyone that hasn’t been vaccinated and wishes to do so get that done. I would also continue to encourage hand sanitizing and other precautions that were used last time we experienced a high positivity rate.”

At the time of this article, Johnson County has 52 active cases and 2,434 reported cases in total. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, 39 people here have died from COVID-19 locally. For information on the Johnson County Health Department or to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination, call (423) 727-9731. Find the closest vaccine option at vaccines.gov.