Wilson County Schools is bringing its students back to the classroom in the hybrid model next week and Mayor Randall Hutto says the vaccination process seems to be running smoother as the Wilson County begins to come out of the its latest surge of COVID-19.
Data reported by the Tennessee Department of Health are showing a decline in both the daily case rate and the average of positive tests. The daily case rate has dropped from an average of 102.7 for the two-week period ending Dec. 31 to 69.2 for the seven days ending Thursday. Over the last seven days, 20% of COVID tests are coming back positive, compared with 28.5% a week earlier.
Hutto said that based on calls to his office, the initially confusing vaccination process for those 75 and older is now running better.
“Many of the people we have tried to help, we are hearing back from that they’ve gotten the vaccine or they’ve gotten scheduled,” Hutto said. Those eligible for the vaccine can begin the process by calling 866-442-5301 or going to www.signupgenius.com/go/wilson_priority_list.
However, at least one local doctor says elderly residents are still having difficulty with the system. Dr. Bill Littman, a primary care physician who has practiced in Lebanon since 1987, said Friday that the Wilson County Health Department should create a form that seniors can fill out, either at the department or at the vaccination site at College Hills Church of Christ.
“A high percentage of my elderly patients do not know how to get online,” Littman said. “I wonder if there can’t be some way for them to drive up and register.”
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tennessee has fallen out of the top tier of states in terms of getting the vaccine into residents’ arms. Tennessee is, as of Thursday, administering the vaccine at a rate of 3,876 per 100,000 residents. The top performing states are all over 4,200 per 100,000 with some over 6,000. On the other hand, Alabama is only vaccinating at the rate of 1,882 per 100,000 — the worst in the nation.
While Wilson County Schools returns to in-person instruction Tuesday (Monday is the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday), the Lebanon Special School District will remain on remote learning. LSSD Director Scott Benson is expected to decide later next week whether to return to the classroom on Jan. 25.
WCS’s announcement is only for one week. Another evaluation will be made Wednesday with an announcement about the week of Jan. 25. This is because administrators are keeping an eye out for the pandemic’s course after the holiday break, WCS spokesman Bart Barker indicated in an email to district parents. The district is maintaining its mask requirement.
Meanwhile, Hutto warned against complacency and again reminded people to wear masks, social distance, and frequently wash their hands.
“I know three people close to me that died this week,” Hutto said. “Now is not the time to relax.”