Photo: U.S. Congressman Chuck Fleischmann speaks at the Tennessee Valley Corridor Summit 2018 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Photo Credit: Lynn Freeny
Published January 12, 2021
As Tennesseans continue to wait for Covid vaccines to be distributed, U.S. Congressman Chuck Fleischmann has announced he has contracted the virus.
Fleischmann, who is the Republican representative for Tennessee, released a statement on Sunday explaining that he tested positive after being exposed to another positive member of Congress.
In the statement, Fleischmann said, “I have been in quarantine since Wednesday night, which is when I learned the individual had tested positive, and [am] following CDC guidance. I will continue to work for my constituents while self-isolating. I currently feel okay and remain in contact with the Attending Physician. I again, want to urge all Americans to continue to wear masks, practice proper hygiene, and follow CDC guidance as we work to combat COVID-19.”
This comes right after Tennesseans have expressed frustrations about how the vaccine is being handled and distributed. Many people have spent hours waiting in line at vaccination sites only to find out they had run out.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee appeared in a news briefing on Friday to address these frustrations.
“We don’t have enough vaccines, and that has created anxiety, it’s created frustration, it’s created long lines, it’s created a misunderstanding about what vaccines are available and what we should be doing to make sure that everyone that wants one gets one,” Lee said. “The fact that the vaccine has been slow and limited to roll out has been a great challenge for us.”
Considering medical experts are saying the vaccine is a vital part of getting through the pandemic, Tennessee residents have been frustrated that the process has been so slow.
However, Tennesseans are not alone in their frustrations. Every state was required to submit distribution plans for the vaccine, but the rate that vaccines are being administered is lower than intended.
As of Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that over 22 million vaccines had been distributed across the country. However, less than seven million citizens have actually received the vaccine. The Trump Administration had previously promised to have 20 million vaccinated by the end of 2020.
Epidemiology professor, Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, from Columbia University, said that this first phase should be the simplest one, which has raised some concern.
Sadr said, “We’ve started out with the easiest populations, an almost captive audience: nursing homes and hospital workers — you know who they are and where to find them.”
Hani Mahmassani, professor and director of the Northwestern University Transportation Center, has agreed that vaccination numbers are much lower than they should be.
He said the rate at which it has taken to get the vaccines to each state has gone “as well as can be expected.” His concern has been with how states are handling things.
Mahmassani said, “It’s been a huge, hard start to try and get a lot of vaccines out in a short period of time, and it’s all time-sensitive, and it’s very difficult to handle as a product with a lot of moving parts. Given how long we’ve known about this, I would have hoped that state and local areas would have had a more effective plan that can vaccinate people faster. But in fairness, there’s also been a lot of changing information along the way.”