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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Tennessee's top health official, Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, told reporters Wednesday she is "cautiously optimistic" that the state was easing out of its latest COVID-19 surge.

By the numbers: Tennessee had a rolling seven-day average of 3,526 cases Tuesday, down from an average of 9,411 on Sept. 11.

Why it matters: The state's health care system was at a breaking point at the height of the latest surge, when earlier this month Tennessee topped the nation in new COVID cases per capita. Cases trending down could offer the health system some much-needed relief.

The latest: Piercey said the decline in demand coupled with an increase in supply kept the state from having to prioritize access to antibody treatments.

Yes, but: Low vaccination rates could keep downward trends from falling too far, one expert told Axios.

  • "This is not mission accomplished time," said William Schaffner, an infectious disease authority at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
  • Low vaccination rates in Tennessee could lead to a period of "smoldering transmission," with continued spread keeping trendlines from bottoming out like they might elsewhere, Schaffner said.

For the record: Only 46% of Tennesseans are fully vaccinated, according to state data.

  • Piercey said boosting that number continues to be the state's priority.
  • She also expects to see children ages 5-11 become eligible for the Pfizer vaccine in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile: Pfizer booster shots are now widely available to adults across Tennessee. By Wednesday, the state reported more than 108,000 third doses had been administered.

Go deeper

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID shot — FDA panel endorses Pfizer vaccines for 5-11 year olds — Moderna says vaccine shows strong immune response in kids
  2. Health: 96% of Tyson Foods employees vaccinated ahead of mandate deadline — U.S. releases updated vaccination, testing rules for foreign travelers — Those who miss work without pay due to COVID also had food insecurity
  3. Politics: Alabama governor orders state agencies to fight federal vaccine mandate — Axios-Ipsos poll: Confidence in Biden COVID recovery tumbles — New York City police union files lawsuit against vaccine mandate.
  4. Education: Benefits of vaccine for children outweigh risks, FDA says — Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
10 hours ago - Health

CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID shot

Photo: Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in updated guidelines Tuesday that some immunocompromised people who have received either Pfizer or Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines will be able to get a fourth shot.

Details: People over 18 who are "moderately to severely immunocompromised" and have received three doses of an mRNA vaccine may get a fourth shot (of either the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines) at least six months after getting their third Pfizer or Moderna dose, per the CDC.

Oct 25, 2021 - Health

Moderna says COVID vaccine shows strong immune response in kids

Photo: Martin Galindo/Long Visual Press/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Moderna on Monday released trial results for its coronavirus vaccine for children aged 6 to 11, saying it provides a "robust" immune response after two doses.

Why it matters: Moderna said it will officially submit the results to the Food and Drug Administration for authorization in "the near term," meaning we could soon see two coronavirus vaccines available to protect approximately 28 million more kids in the U.S.

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