NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee has one of the worst rates of new COVID-19 infections, not only in the United States but the world.

But as more people are heading to mass events again like concerts, church, and football games, doctors are preparing for what the next two weeks could look like.

“What I see is a tension that’s going on, this great desire for people to get back to normal or near-normal activities which is, of course, understandable after a year and a half of hunkering down,” said Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

With a 42% vaccination rate in Tennessee, doctors are cautioning against attending mass events if you’re unvaccinated and unmasked.

“At the same time we see this invisible virus highly contagious still spreading in our communities, stressing hospitals intensive care units and increasingly even reaching down into the pediatric population and hospitalizing children,” said Schaffner.

As family and friends gather for the Labor Day holiday weekend and take in some entertainment, doctors are spelling out what the next two weeks could look like for Tennessee.

“I actually expect two weeks down the road here and there we’re going to have further bursts of covid infection because of exposures that happened on this labor day weekend,” said Schaffner.

Tracking COVID in Tennessee
📊 COVID-19 cases among TN school-age children
📊 Tennessee’s Current COVID-19 hospitalizations
📊 New COVID-19 cases and deaths reported by month

That could mean long hospital stays and severe illness, something doctors say at this point is preventable.

“An ounce of prevention, the vaccine is worth a pound of cure, having to go to the intensive care unit, why not take the ounce of prevention and get vaccinated,” said Schaffner, reciting Benjamin Franklin.

Schaffner added everyone must be willing to jump on board in order to get past the pandemic, especially community leaders.

“Local close in leadership, I would like the religious community, the religious leaders all faiths to come forward and oblige everyone in their congregations to be vaccinated,” said Schaffner. “Local business leaders to talk about the economic impact of this virus and I would of course like the political leaders to chime in also.”

Currently, 6% of ICU beds are available in Tennessee. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, 90% of those who are hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

Those that are vaccinated and hospitalized with complications from COVID tend to have comorbidities or other underlying medical conditions.

⏩ Read today’s top stories on