As we enter the holiday season, I would like to express my gratitude for the incredible amount of

dedication demonstrated by our healthcare providers across the state. We are so thankful to have such

skilled and compassionate teams caring for our communities during this pandemic.

I would also like to thank all Tennesseans for your efforts over the past year to slow the spread of

COVID-19. You’ve stayed home, you’ve rescheduled important events, you’ve worn masks, and you’ve

checked in on friends and neighbors.

We are once again asking for your help in slowing the spread of COVID-19. While we miss socializing

with our family and friends, we ask that you find ways to celebrate safely. We ask this because as cases

and hospitalizations continue to climb, we are facing the scenario we hoped would never come - many

areas throughout the state have little to no bed capacity.

This not only impacts access to care for COVID-19 patients, but for all types of hospital care including surgeries, heart attacks, strokes, and injuries.

Please consider ways to celebrate safely this holiday season like only gathering with the people in your

household or people with whom you are already in close contact, incorporating virtual meals and visits

into your celebrations, or having small gatherings where guests are masked and able to social distance.

We know these considerations may seem like they put a damper on our holiday cheer, but things are

looking up. Two promising vaccine options have been announced and it’s looking more and more likely

our celebrations will be back to normal next year. Let’s take extra precautions this year so no one is

missing the next time we gather.

Wendy Long, M.D., is the president and CEO of the Tennessee Hospital Association.

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