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Gov. Lee, Mayor Cooper warn Tennesseans about COVID-19 'sobering reality'

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Gov. Bill Lee and Nashville Mayor John Cooper delivered stiff warnings about the state of Tennessee’s battle with coronavirus on Thursday, even as the first Pfizer vaccine inoculations began statewide.

Gov. Lee on Thursday used his strongest language to date in an effort to make Tennesseans to take the pandemic seriously. The governor is under pressure to re-impose statewide restrictions to bring the health crisis under control.

During the Pfizer vaccine rollout at Vanderbilt Medical Center, Lee spoke of the “sobering reality” that Tennesseans are “getting sicker by the day from COVID-19.” He chastised state residents, saying the vaccine won’t cure “selfishness or indifference,” “won’t cure foolish decisions about how we gather,” and won’t cure “an attitude of refusal to wear a mask.”

During a press briefing Thursday, Nashville Mayor John Cooper noted Metro has been allocated about 16,000 of the 56,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine shipped to Tennessee.

Cooper told reporters the allotment is only enough vaccine to immunize less than one-third of the city’s health care workers, first responders, and nursing home residents. Those 16,000 won’t be fully immunized until they receive a second shot.

Cooper warns it may be spring or early summer before every Nashvillian has a chance to receive a dose of vaccine.

The warnings came during the worst week in Tennessee’s nine month battle with coronavirus. In just five days’ time, Tennessee has marked new all-time highs for confirmed new cases of COVID-19 in a single day, week and month.

Health officials on Sunday reported a record 11,352 new infections in 24 hours.

With two reporting days remaining, the state on Thursday broke the record for new cases in a single week. Well over 50,000 infections have been confirmed since Sunday.

December is now the worst month for new cases of COVID-19. More than 118,000 Tennesseans have been confirmed virus positive with the virus with 14 days remaining in the month.

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