KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Memorial Day marks the first holiday in more than a year without state or county COVID-19 restrictions in place. A sense of normalcy is returning.
Last year at this time, the case count was just beginning to climb. It wasn't until after Memorial Day weekend last year that they began to spike.
Right now, the case count continues to trend downward.
The pandemic took a toll on mental health. People struggled with the changes and finding the light at the end of the tunnel.
"Everyone has been through a tough time this past year, it's been a heavy, heavy year," said Steve Wildsmith with Cornerstone of Recovery.
Getting back to normal is helping he said, but it will still take time before some find that balance.
"For a lot of people getting back out in public feels strange, very odd and then it's almost like the other end of that spectrum is people are ready to go nuts."
He said overcoming the past year is an accomplishment, it's important to remember all we've been through.
"I think it's ok to pat ourselves on the back, give ourselves a thumbs up."
Wildsmith said we still need to be cautious. Dr. William Schaffner with Vanderbilt University Medical Center agrees.
"It's not just going to disappear, the pandemic will end, but it will continue to smolder," said Schaffner. "I think, you can tell by my smile, people are generally looking at the beginning of the end of this pandemic."
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, 33% of people statewide have been fully vaccinated.
Schaffner said that means we still have a ways to go until returning fully to normal.
"We don't, like last year, expect a big surge after Memorial Day, but there could be little bursts of infection."
He encourages everyone to get vaccinated and enjoy the precious moments we're beginning to see again.
"Starting to travel, be with family and be able to give them hugs and kisses," said Schaffner.
If you have a sore throat, stuffy nose, cough or fever, he urges you to get tested if you are unvaccinated or vaccinated but are immuno-compromised.