NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Metro city leaders urged residents of Davidson County to get booster shots after health officials say case numbers skyrocketed since the holidays. 

Nearly 23,000 people in Davidson County currently have COVID-19.

“To put this in perspective, we were in our worst days with the Delta variant when we had 8,500 and we are now nearly 3 times that number,” said Dr. Alex Jahangir, head of the Metro Nashville Coronavirus Task Force. 

Of the 22,776 people in Davidson County who have the virus, nearly 5,000 of those cases were confirmed in the last few days.

“We’ve surpassed the number of cases and hospitalizations that we were seeing this time last year,” said Dr. Aima Ahonkhai, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases and Global Health at VUMC. “That’s a combination of the fact that we are dealing with a highly infectious variant, the omicron variant, at the same time we are coming off the heels of the holidays.”

In a virtual press conference Monday, Mayor John Cooper and city health officials urged Davidson County residents to not only get vaccinated but get the booster. To date, 62.9% of Davidson County is fully vaccinated, but only about 168,000 have received the booster. 

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“It will make a substantial difference. Even if people have breakthrough infections, for those infections to be really mild. We won’t be able to prevent all of those, but in making sure that we either prevent or have mild breakthrough infections, we will not overwhelm our hospitals with people who are [at] that level of care. We will see less severe disease. We will see our hospitals decongested,” said Dr. Ahonkhai. Mayor Cooper is now adding lanes to Metro testing sites and expanding hours to Saturdays.