COVID Update Photo 1

(From left) Karen Minnear, a registered nurse with the Wilson County Health Department; Leslie Durham, a nurse practitioner with the department; and Alison Bowman, an environmental health specialist from Williamson County, worked the drive-through vaccine site at College Hills Church of Christ in March of 2021. Two years later, health emergencies across the country are ending in May.

There will be a transition out of various states of public health emergencies in relation to COVID-19 on May 11.

Wilson County and Trousdale County Public Health County Director Adalberto Valdez announced the transition via email on Thursday. Beginning on March 1, COVID-19 PCR testing at the county health departments will only be available for primary care patients.

Vaccinations will remain available to the general public from 8:30 a.m. until 9:45 a.m. at the health department on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

With nearly 270 million Americans receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Valdez said that the spread of vaccination and testing services to supermarket pharmacies like Walgreens, Publix, and CVS was an important part of making this transition possible.

“We have the supermarket pharmacies getting on board,” Valdez said. “When we started the pandemic, they weren’t really on board.

“The brunt of it was on the health departments. Now that we have them and the private sector helping us out, we have widespread services.”

Valdez said that Wilson County has the tools it needs to manage COVID-19. The health department remains focused on increasing vaccinations, monitoring variants and the spread of COVID-19, and accelerating efforts to protect high-risk populations.

“It was a collaboration between different partners,” Valdez said. “Before I came into this role, I worked at the regional office, and I was in emergency preparedness for the whole region. I was able to see how it (the pandemic) not only impacted Wilson County, but Trousdale, Dickson, Humphrey, Stewart, Cheatham and Robertson (counties).”

The Cumberland Regional Office will continue to track positive COVID-19 cases in the future.

With the end of the state of emergency, the requirement for private insurance companies to cover the cost of COVID-19 tests will end, although a company can choose to continue offering that benefit if it chooses to.

“To be able to say it’s no longer an emergency, I’m happy,” Valdez said. “I’m grateful.”

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