Hamblen Task Force gets positive updates

Nearly a year after the Coronavirus arrived in the Lakeway Area, causing a month-long shutdown and massive changes to daily life; the news was good as the Hamblen County Coronavirus Task Force met virtually Wednesday afternoon.

Gordon Lintz, CAO of Morristown Hamblen Healthcare System, told the task force the volume of COVID-19 patients continues to drop.

“We’re about 25% of where we were,” he said. “We’re still getting COVID cases but definitely going in the right direction.”

Much of the rest of the meeting was spent discussing the successful mass vaccination event held last weekend at the Great Smoky Mountains Expo Center. More than 500 people were vaccinated and no doses went to waste.

Now, with the state moving into vaccination level 1c, which means anyone with conditions that put them at elevated risk or anyone who cares for someone in a high risk category, the expectation is many more doses of vaccine will be in Lakeway Area residents’ arms very soon.

Sherrie Montgomery, director of the Hamblen County Health Department, said they have a list of some conditions that qualify a patient for the vaccine, like diabetes. For others, they will have to consult with their medical director.

She added in general they will be liberal and generous in allowing those with a myriad of conditions to get vaccinated.

Dr. Jeff Perry updated the task force on the plan for returning students to school.

He reported the number of active cases in the school system remains low. The priority, he said, is to get struggling students away from virtual learning and back into the classroom.

“We’ve got a ton of kids who are not performing on grad level,” Perry said, adding many of those kids struggled last year and have taken a step backwards via virtual learning.

“We’re looking at getting them in, starting remediation,” he said. “We will have an extensive summer school program.”

While task force members encouraged continued vigilance, they decided to reduce the frequency of task force meetings.