BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – Sullivan County health officials painted a bleak picture of what COVID-19 currently looks like in the county and how vaccines may impact case numbers.
Regional health department director Gary Mayes spoke about the status of the pandemic with the Bristol, Tennessee City Council Tuesday morning.
Mayes told the council that the department expects the number of cases to continue increasing.
“The spread is really unlike anything we’ve seen thus far,” Mayes said. “There is no indication, in any indicator that we look at that we have peaked or we are about to peak.”
He also said that no one should expect the COVID-19 vaccines to make an immediate impact on cases.
“The vaccine is coming out in small quantities. It will not be effective in terms of deterring the population numbers we’re seeing. In other words, we won’t have enough citizens vaccinated to impact the community spread that we’re seeing until March or April.”
Mayes told the council that the health department’s biggest concert is hospital capacity. At the meeting, he told councilmembers that Ballad Health’s projections for COVID-19 hospitalizations were accurate. He also said that when hospitals reach the “tipping point,” there will be a dramatic change in health care for the county.