First Lady Dr. Jill Biden in Nashville.

By Ashley Benkarski

NASHVILLE, TN — Jill Biden visited a COVID-19 vaccine drive in downtown Nashville Tuesday to encourage attendees to get vaccinated.

The First Lady was met on the tarmac after her Air Force Two landing by Rep. Jim Cooper, Nashville Mayor John Cooper and others before dropping in at Ole Smokey Moonshine Distillery for an appearance with country artist Brad Paisley.

Paisley honored Charley Pride, who passed away due to complications from coronavirus, in a quick speech along with performing for attendees.

Dr. Biden offered support to people who stepped up to get the shot.

Just over 41 percent of individuals statewide have received only one dose of the vaccine.

Further, approximately 37 percent of Tennesseans have received both doses, which is still under the national average of 45 percent, the Tennessee Department of Health reported June 20. Nearly 92,000 additional vaccines have been given since that date.

The department’s data also reveals that the number of reported nonwhite Tennesseans vaccinated are at alarmingly low numbers in relation to their white counterparts. Of those vaccinated, nearly five percent identify as Hispanic or Latino, 11 percent are African American and two percent are Asian.

The novel coronavirus has mutated into several different strains since its outbreak in late 2019.

The latest, named the Delta strain, has  again dealt a blow to the United Kingdom and is now rapidly moving throughout the U.S. population. 

The World Health Organization has warned that the new strains are reported to be more infectious and transmissible and present different symptoms than the preceding strains.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said the Delta variant is responsible for 20.6 percent of new cases in the nation and may become the dominant strain as soon as July. 

“The Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19,” Fauci said. For now, all vaccines cleared for distribution here generally protect against all variants, but that may change unless the nation ramps up the number of vaccinations given. 

Health officials cautioned that pockets of unvaccinated individuals may allow for the virus to continue to transmit throughout the population and mutate again. The COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub warns a mutation may manifest with traits that could impact the vaccine’s protection.

Symptoms of the Delta variant include headache, sore throat, fever and a runny nose.