Picture of the Nashville skyline.
Nov 30, 2021

Axios Nashville

Hello Tuesday and goodbye November.

β˜€οΈ Today's weather: 65 degrees and sunny.

Today's newsletter is 898 words, a 3.4-minute read.

1 big thing: Omicron enters the chat

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

It's only a matter of time before the new coronavirus variant Omicron reaches Tennessee.

Between the lines: A total of 49.4% of residents statewide are fully vaccinated. But the rate in some rural Tennessee counties is much lower, with fewer than one in three people fully vaccinated.

  • "That is something that keeps me up at night," David Aronoff, director of the infectious diseases division at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, tells Axios.
  • "The next few weeks are going to be very telling in our state and I certainly hope that we are able to get our vaccine rates up."

Why it matters: While many questions about Omicron remain unanswered, state and local officials are adamant that vaccines and boosters remain the most effective weapon against the virus.

  • "It's probably going to take us about two weeks to know a lot of information about (Omicron)," Metro health director Dr. Gill Wright tells Axios.
  • "We have concerns, as does the World Health Organization, because it has about 30 mutations in the part of the virus called the spike protein. (Fighting the spike protein is) where immunity from the virus for those who've been infected already, as well as the vaccinated, has some of its effect."

The latest: Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey has been briefed by the CDC and the White House.

What's next: Vanderbilt's Aronoff urged Tennesseans to create a "human shield" against the virus by getting vaccinated right away to avoid another surge in line with the Delta variant's arrival.

  • "We are probably hours to days away from learning about cases in the United States," he said. "Being fully immunized stacks the cards in our favor."
  • Metro's Wright says the city's strategy for combating the new variant doesn't change: the health department will continue operating its two vaccine and testing clinics in addition to pop-up clinics.
2. Titans among most injured teams of all time
Expand chart
Data: ESPN; Table: Axios Visuals

A Titans season that seemed to have Super Bowl potential has been at least temporarily sidetracked by a rash of injuries.

Driving the news: The Titans set an NFL record in their loss to the Patriots on Sunday for the most players used by a team in the regular season.

  • Tennessee has used 86 players this season, eclipsing the previous record of 84 set by the 2020 49ers.
  • According to ESPN, the Titans are tied for third in the NFL for most players currently on the injured reserve with 16.

Why it matters: The Titans had ascended to the top of the AFC standings and were the No. 1 seed prior to consecutive losses.

  • Star players Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, Julio Jones, and Bud Dupree are among those sidelined with injuries.

Yes, but: All is not lost. The other five teams on the list for most players used in a single season all finished with a losing record.

  • The 8-4 Titans, however, are in first place in the AFC South and are still poised for a playoff berth.
3. Our Hanukkah calendar

Maura Losch/Axios

Hanukkah began Sunday night and several local events are planned throughout the rest of the week as the holiday continues through Monday evening.

πŸ•Ž Chabad of Nashville has a limited supply of menorahs and candles for the public. If you're interested. you can contact rabbi@chabadnashville.com for more details.

πŸ•― The Temple on Harding Pike is hosting daily menorah lightings at 5:30pm in its parking lot, along with other events.

πŸ’» Congregation Micah is hosting candle lightings and other events that are accessible online.

🍽 East Nashville restaurant Butcher & Bee is serving a special Hanukkah menu featuring sweet potato latkes and braised brisket every day through Monday.

🎡 East Side Tribe is teaming up with the Jewish Federation & Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee to host a celebration 7pm Wednesday at Inglewood Lounge.

🍺 The Jewish Federation is hosting an ugly sweater Hanukkah party for young professionals Thursday at Fat Bottom Brewing in The Nations.

πŸŽ‰ Gordon Jewish Community Center is hosting its annual Hanukkah Fest outdoors on Sunday. Tickets include dinner and games. $12 for adults, $6 for kids.

4. The Setlist

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Nashville school board declined to update its policy on athletics eligibility for transgender students. (The Tennessean)

Reba McEntire is opening a bar and restaurant in Oklahoma. (Nashville Business Journal, subscription required)

Tennessee Vols fans shouldn't be too worried about football coach Josh Heupel leaving for Oklahoma. (The Athletic, subscription required)

Jackson and Nashville got above-average scores for LGBTQ equality from the Human Rights Campaign, but nearby cities didn't fare as well. (Tennessee Lookout)

5. πŸŽ„ Opryland's new holiday rules

The Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP

Opryland Hotel is restricting access to its campus going into the busy holiday season.

  • Anyone stopping by the resort after 2pm Friday-Sunday to look at the Christmas lights will have to pay for a ticket or an overnight stay.

Details: The hotel announced the move on Sunday, limiting options for locals who want to stop by during peak hours for a free glimpse at those famous decorations.

  • The hotel stated that the new rules, which remain in effect through Jan. 2, were geared toward "capacity management."
  • Visitors will still be allowed to stop by without a ticket or room key β€” provided they go during the week or arrive before 2pm on the weekends.
  • Folks who arrive before 2pm on weekends can stay and stroll at their leisure.

If you go: Tickets are available for ice skating, carriage rides, pictures with Santa, and other Christmas events.

🍊 Nate is pounding orange juice and elderberry syrup to fend off a head cold.

πŸ€ Adam is watching this video about naked mole-rats and the secret to living a long life.