‘We have to learn to live with this’: TN Health Commissioner discusses economy, holidays as COVID cases climb


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As Tennessee’s COVID-19 numbers linger near record levels, there are sobering words from Tennessee’s Commissioner of Health, Dr. Lisa Piercey.

“The call for people to shut down the economy, that is a non-negotiable for us,” said Dr. Piercey after the department’s budget hearing. “We have to learn to live with this [COVID-19] and that does require a significant amount of personal responsibility on everyone’s effort.”

There have been things done to address staffing shortages to deal with COVID patients said the commissioner.

“The hospital assistance grant for COVID-specific units and lots of other contract agency staff support is what we are trying to get to hospitals to make sure they have to have those beds staffed,” Piercey told reporters.

Just as critical are the plans families are making for Thanksgiving. Some fear COVID could spread rapidly during the holiday. The commissioner thinks about precautions that people should take, including her family.

“I don’t live in some bubble that that does not affect me either, so we are having these exact same discussions in my house,” the health commissioner said.

Then she shot off a list of questions.

“Do we do it in smaller groups? Do we do it outdoors? What do we need to do with our older family members to protect them? These are the conversations that my family is having and every family should be having,” added Dr. Piercey.

On a more hopeful note, the health commissioner said there’s chance limited numbers of a COVID vaccine could be in Tennessee by late December.

Those in long-term care facilities, medical workers, and first responders are potentially among the first who would receive the vaccine.

The vaccine might be available to the general public by spring.

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