KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — COVID cases are on the rise and Tennessee has seen a 30% increase in diagnosed cases in the month of August.
"It started in the southeast, so we in Tennessee have been seeing the rise for a month or two now," Dr. Todd Rice, a Vanderbilt University professor, said.
A new booster vaccine is expected to roll out at the end of September after the CDC meets to discuss it. Health experts say that the elderly and immuno-compromised should be the first to receive the shot.
"Based [on the] data that came out earlier this week, it looks like it will be effective against this variant which is good news for us," Rice said.
As far as testing, at-home tests are still effective at detecting the new strain. You're encouraged to use them if you are feeling COVID-19 symptoms, but remember to check the expiration date on your test.
"With the tests, health offices test them to make sure they are still actively working," Dena Mashburn, director of nursing at Knoxville Health Department, said.
Other than the vaccine, the best way to avoid COVID is by using safe health practices, such as coughing in your elbow and practicing hand hygiene.
"Coughing into your elbow, washing your hand regularly, not coming to work when you don't feel well... those things help protect all of us," Mashburn said.