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Morristown Mayor encouraging vaccinations as COVID-19 cases rise again

"We need leaders to direct the public — to follow them in the right direction," said Mayor Gary Chesney.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Mayor of Morristown, Gary Chesney, posted his vaccination card on Facebook Friday morning to encourage others to get their COVID-19 vaccines.

He said that most misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine spreads online, and he wanted to combat its spread and prove the vaccine was safe by showing a local leader receiving the vaccine.

He thinks the best way to combat that misinformation is to share more positive posts and verified information on social media. Chesney encourages others to do the same.

"We need leaders to direct the public — to follow them in the right direction," Chesney said.

More than 2,000 people are in Tennessee hospitals fighting COVID-19. The State Department of Health said that the rate of active cases has climbed since May.

Credit: WBIR

The State Health Department data also shows one person in Hamblen County died as a result of COVID-19 since Thursday.

"Even one person is too many," Chesney said.

Chesney said the local hospitals have many COVID-19 patients, which are filling beds and straining the health care system.

"The high percentage of COVID cases in the hospital are among the unvaccinated," Chesney added.

According to Chesney, only about 30% of people under 65 years old are fully vaccinated in Morristown.

"That's frustrating to our hospital and health care people," Chesney said.

However, Chesney is pleased with the number of people over the age of 65 who got vaccinated. Nearly 70% of this age group is fully vaccinated in Hamblen County. He wants to encourage the younger generations to get vaccinated.

"We feel like we understand medical reasons for not getting the vaccine, and we understand some religious reasons," Chesney said. "But, we don't understand stubbornness quite so well."

Chesney said he hopes his transparency in showing his vaccination card will help others who are still experiencing vaccine hesitancy. 

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