Nov 22, 2021 - COVID
COVID looming over Thanksgiving
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Vanderbilt University Medical Center infectious disease expert William Schaffner had hoped COVID-19 would be under control by Thanksgiving 2021.

  • But "COVID, particularly this Delta variant, keeps throwing us curveballs," he tells Axios.

Driving the news: The rolling seven-day average of new infections in Tennessee is slowly climbing again, according to state data. The state logged an average of 1,301 cases Thursday, up from 973 on Nov. 5.

What he's saying: The infection and vaccination numbers are "giving me an uneasy view, now, of the holidays and the month beyond," Schaffner says.

  • As Tennessee continues "going back near normal in an environment that's under-vaccinated," conditions are right for a post-holiday surge in December and January.

The bottom line: Schaffner said vaccinations and booster shots remain the best weapon in the war against COVID.

  • Schaffner advised people gathering with family to "travel with care" and be mindful of their loved ones' vaccination status.
  • "When family members are unvaccinated, I'm straightforward: Stay away," Schaffner says. "Blow them a kiss, don't give them a hug."
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