The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) informed The Tennessee Star that the White House hasn’t contacted them about the Delta variant response teams.

The Biden Administration announced in a press briefing last week that it would be launching these response teams due to the expectation of a surge in the COVID-19 Delta variant, which they claim is more infectious and dangerous. White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients explained that these response teams would have five focuses: increase testing and contact tracing; provide therapeutics for the infected; deploy federal personnel for vaccination, testing, and therapeutics; assist with public health response work like epidemiology, data analysis, field investigations; and increase vaccinations through campaigns.

“Today, given what we are seeing with the spread of Delta in some communities in the country, we’re intensifying our efforts to help states prevent, detect, and respond to hotspots among the unvaccinated by mobilizing COVID-19 surge response teams to be at the ready to deploy federal resources and, where needed, federal personnel,” said Zients. “These are dedicated teams working with communities at higher risk for or already experiencing outbreaks due to the spread of the Delta variant and their low vaccination rate.”

President Joe Biden followed up on the announcement of response teams in a press briefing on Tuesday. He characterized the increased vaccinations as “one of the greatest achievements in American history.” However, Biden emphasized the importance of everyone becoming vaccinated – especially with the increased spread of the Delta variant. Biden called it the “patriotic” thing to do.

“Right now, as I speak to you, millions of Americans are still unvaccinated and unprotected. And because of that, their communities are at risk. Their friends are at risk. The people they care about are at risk. This is an even bigger concern because of the Delta variant,” explained Biden. “In today’s briefing, we discussed how the Delta variant is already responsible for half of all cases in many parts of this country. It’s more easily transmissible, potentially more dangerous. […] But the good news is that our vaccinations are highly effective. Fully vaccinated Americans have a high degree of protection, including against this Delta variant.”

Biden further explained that the “COVID-19 Surge Response teams” will be comprised of officials from across many different agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

At the end of last month, TDH reported 27 cases of the Delta variant. There were also a total of 99 cases of the two Epsilon variants, 110 of the Gamma variant, and 19 of the Beta variant.

According to the latest data on COVID cases statewide, there were just under 200 new cases in the last two weeks.

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].