Crowds make health official ‘cringe,’ urge for caution as Nashville loosens COVID restrictions

Coronavirus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and cities continue opening with fewer restrictions, we’re starting to see more crowds gather.

Packed streets, restaurants, and bars over the weekend in downtown Nashville make health officials cringe, as they reiterate that we are not in the clear yet.

“We could once again simulate another surge if we are not careful,” Infectious Disease Doctor William Schaffner with Vanderbilt Medical Center told News 2.

The city saw a surge in activity as Nashville entered a new phase of COVID-19 guidelines, allowing for more capacity and extended operational hours. 

The amount of positive COVID cases have dropped, but Dr. Schaffner said we need to keep our eyes on the UK variant.

“Cases have dropped, but we are kind of in a plateau. This British variant is up there spreading. People are being a little too frisky for my public health sensibilities, you know. I’m concerned about that.”

The concern heightened as cities continue to open back up and with Spring Break on the horizon.

“In public health we will blow the whistle when it’s all clear, but we are not there yet. I’ve been on this rollercoaster with everybody before right that could send those cases up and behind the cases come the hospitalizations and behind the hospitalizations come the death,” he said.

The CDC released new guidelines Monday for those that are fully vaccinated, the first step toward returning to everyday activities. The CDC said a growing body of evidence suggests fully vaccinated people are less likely to have an asymptomatic infection and potentially less likely to transmit the virus to others.

“We haven’t got to the final answer yet, but it does look that if you’ve had the vaccine not only are you protected against severe disease but it’s beginning to look like you can’t get the virus itself those detail data are not in yet,” said Dr. Schaffner.

CDC’s guidance Monday recommended fully vaccinated people can visit with others that are fully vaccinated, as well as unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.

“I think we can get together, I think we can have dinners, meet our friends, meet grandparents, the CDC will give us some guidelines, but masking, that’s the last thing I would give up. It’s so cheap, it’s so effective.”

Even those that are fully vaccinated need to continue wearing masks and socially distancing when around those who are at high risk, when visiting unvaccinated people from multiple households and when in public, according to the CDC.

A person isn’t considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after receiving the last required dose of the vaccine.

Metro police say they are still writing citations for those who don’t follow the mask mandate; however, they didn’t write any over the weekend.

From availability to current phases, find vaccine information for every Tennessee county using News 2’s Vaccine Tracker map.

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