Health Commissioner: Most Tennessee COVID cases now Omicron variant

The omicron variant is likely now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in Tennessee, according to State Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey. She estimated Wednesday that 80% of active cases to be from Omicron. She predicts between 90-95% of statewide cases to be from the variant by next week.  “Just to put it into context, it took about three months for the delta variant to be the predominant variant nationally. It took omicron about three weeks,” said Piercey.

Experts are still working to learn whether omicron will cause more hospitalizations and severe illness. However, Dr. Piercey said research shows vaccines are offering protection against hospitalization and death.

Piercey noted that the state health department has also discovered an increase in at-home deaths, leading to higher death figures attributed to the virus than initially thought, which accounts for some of the lag in reported deaths.

The state of Tennessee has recorded nearly 6,500 new cases of COVID-19 in the last two days, with 160 deaths reported.