TSU expert says slow decline in Tennessee’s COVID cases not enough: ‘We need to do better’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A recent report shows that Tennessee is ranked 7th in the nation with the number of COVID-19 cases, which is a drop from number 1 and a 21 percent decrease compared to a week ago. According to the weekly State Profile Report for Tennessee released Sept. 14, the state also fell to 18th in COVID deaths, dropping from 11th the previous week. 

Dr. Wendelyn Inman

While this decline shows improvement, a Tennessee State University public health expert says, “We need to do better.” 

“Twenty-one percent is excellent. That means our cases have fallen, but we still have a high transmittable number,” says Dr. Wendelyn Inman, an infectious disease expert and professor and director of the public health program in the College of Health Sciences. “It still puts us in the top 10. That 21 percent is not enough to garner, ‘I don’t have anything to worry about.’ It says that we’ve done better, and we hope it continues.” 

Inman, previously the chief of epidemiology for the State of Tennessee, says she hopes the numbers keep declining.

“Instead of being 7th, we need to come out of the top 10,” she says. “That’s my hope. We are the volunteer state. We should be number 1 in the fewest cases.”

On what the state can do to continue the downward spiral, Inman cited efforts at Tennessee State University. She says although TSU falls in a zip code with 37 percent vaccination rate, the university is more active in encouraging solution, which is prevention.  

“TSU is encouraging our people to be healthier during this pandemic; that’s something we can be proud of. We are being positive with our population, encouraging them to get immunized. For the state, we are not doing enough. Twenty-one percent is great, but wouldn’t 70 percent be better?”  

In June, TSU, in collaboration with the Nashville Metro Public Health Department, started offering vaccines to residents 12 years old and up. The university’s student health center also stays open for COVID testing. 

Frank Stevenson, associate vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students, says TSU has remained very active in executing a plan to mitigate issues around COVID. He says that more than 50 percent of students living on campus have been vaccinated, and more than 3,000 of all students have been tested. The university tests an average of more than 100 students a day. 

“We are doing very well in our effort to keep the campus safe,” says Stevenson. “I think we kind of created a wall or barrier that is making it tough for the virus to spread on campus as aggressively as we’ve seen it spread in other places.” 

 Vaccines are administered Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in Kean Hall on the main campus. Daily testing is also set up in Kean Hall.  

Department of Media Relations

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Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.