Twenty-four deaths in eight counties in six days from COVID-19. That’s the story behind the headline in our Sept. 14 edition. Hold on to that for a moment.
Now imagine this: You’re a businessperson looking to expand or relocate your business. You’ve narrowed your site search to two cities. They offer equal tax incentives. Both have excellent school systems. The governments in both cities run well. The quality of life ranks high in both. The infrastructure in both matches your needs.
City A is located in a region with a 73% vaccination rate against COVID-19. City B is located in a region where that vaccination rate is barely above 40%.
Which do you choose? Here’s a hint: It’s not Northeast Tennessee where City B is located.
Why does the vaccination rate matter to that businessperson? It’s pretty simple when you think about it. They want a stable workforce that’s less likely to be absent due to COVID and less likely to be hospitalized (which drives up insurance costs) if they do contract the virus.
So those stories and those deaths we noted at the beginning of this piece do make a difference. They point to a region of people who aren’t taking COVID-19 seriously. They point to a region where the hospital system is being pushed to the breaking point every day. They give businesspeople an insight that frankly isn’t favorable.
COVID-19 is impacting our world in ways we can scarcely imagine. That includes economic development and industrial recruiting. When the folks at NETWORKS and NeTREP are trying to convince prospects that our region has a dependable and responsible workforce, our vaccination rates say otherwise. Our vaccination rates loudly proclaim that too many in our region aren’t responsible and that business can’t depend on them to be at work.
Then what happens? City A wins. We lose.
For Northeast Tennessee to lose on this single piece of data is avoidable. Let’s not lose again. Please, get vaccinated.
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