‘Time to get off the fence:’ Smith County officials make pleas for vaccinations

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 3:26 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2021 at 7:25 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Officials with NET Health and Smith County held a joint news conference Monday to encourage the public to get vaccinated.

“If you’re age 12 and older and have not yet been vaccinated, please get vaccinated today,” said NET Health CEO George Roberts. “Don’t wait any longer, it’s time to get off the fence.”

Monday’s plea for help comes as hospitals say their resources are being overwhelmed, with a major difference between this surge and previous ones: the fact the state is no longer providing additional funding or nurses.

Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said that after four months of the jail being “COVID-free,” cases are now spreading rapidly. Over the span of just three weeks, Smith said case numbers have risen from “a few” to 102. As of Monday’s press conference, 15 jail employees are sick and 12 of them have been quarantined.

“We can’t quarantine fast enough to keep up,” Smith said at the press conference.

Additionally, Smith noted that of the 1,100 inmates who have been offered the shot, 200 have accepted.

Pastor Ralph Caraway of St. Louis Baptist Church said their is an opportunity for faith and science to prove very effective in helping people. He said his personal experience of being with families who lost loved ones to the virus when there was no vaccine available is motivating him to encourage anyone who has not received a vaccine to get one.

”When I say faith and science, there is a whole lot of things about faith that we really can’t prove, but we have them because they are faith,” Caraway said. “But there are some many things that have been proven about taking this vaccine. From a personal standpoint, I’ve had the misfortune of having to be with some many families that have lost loved ones because of COVID. In those dying hours not being able to be with those loved ones and to see the agony those families had to go through that can now be prevented because a vaccine is available.”

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