Unless you have been on vacation in the woods without any digital contact with the world, I am sure you are all aware of the COVID-19 Pandemic aka the Coronavirus. Below is the situation as best to my knowledge.
Over the past three to four weeks I have been given numerous updates through various means. i.e. Conference calls, emails and community meetings (with school directors, the Scott County Emergency Management Association, the SC Health Department and the Sheriff) . Today I was on yet another conference call with Governor Bill Lee to get the latest advice and recommendations on policy changes and recommendations that the State of Tennessee is giving all Mayors, County Executives and Municipal Mayors. Before I get into that discussion, I would like to go over what is happening here at the local level.
All schools are closed including Scott County and Oneida Schools until at least April 1, 2020 per mandate of the Governor.
As of this writing, there are NO cases of the virus in Scott County. Of course, this can quickly change as more test kits become available.
The Scott County Health Department in conjunction with the State HD is prepared if an outbreak were to occur.
Scott County Government is open for business as usual, but with procedural changes. These changes are in place to protect not only the staff, but the citizens that use county services. These changes include policies that promote social distancing by establishing separation of clients and staff. What this means is that we are asking citizens to call the office where they need to services ahead of time to receive direction on how the service can be provided by using the USPS, available online services for that office or using email to make requests. We are also making structural changes to keep the desired separation.
The Scott County Jail is operating in a manner to prevent the virus from entering the jail system. No inmates are leaving the facility that would normally be assisting road crews, litter crews, recycle crews or other work programs.
The Justice Center Court System is now operating under a very restrictive policy on trials and regular cases to prevent close proximity situations.
All of the buildings in the realm of Scott County Government are continuously being cleaned and sterilized.
The UT Ag Extension office is open, but with limited staffing.
The Public Defender’s Office is closed, but is continuously checking messages of clients calling 833-857-2014.
Other office numbers to call before coming to the County Offices are …
Assessor of Property 423-663-2420
Circuit Court Clerk 423-663-2440
Clerk and Master 423-663-2627
County Clerk 423-663-2588
County Mayor 423-663-2000
Register of Deeds 423-663-2417
Veterans Service Officer 423-663-4289
Back to the Governor’s conference call… The Governor is making changes to assist individuals that have been laid off or let go due to the virus. Unemployment checks will now be expedited to assist families that may be experiencing financial strain due to job disruption. He is also extending unemployment benefits for those employees who suddenly find themselves out of work as businesses temporarily cease operations during the pandemic.
He is also expanding funds available through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. This will be available within a week through DHS. It allows cash funds up to $1,000 for a family of 5 or more that has had a job loss as a result of COVID-19.
Governor Lee is also doing what he feels is necessary to keep child care facilities open during the pandemic by increasing emergency response and recovery grants by $10 million.
Governor Lee has made orders to increase the number of test kits and ventilators for healthcare facilities in Tennessee.
The one thing the Governor stressed was that the government alone cannot ‘fix’ this pandemic. He asks that communities come together and do what they can to protect the most vulnerable of the population. He feels that doing all we can do for the elderly by helping them with grocery shopping or picking up prescriptions… Just whatever it takes to keep the elderly from becoming exposed to this virus.
He stressed that restaurants, bars, salons, gyms, churches, etc…should make provisions to prevent crowds of 10 or more from gathering in their facilities. He mentioned that these provisions are voluntary at this point.
In closing, the Governor asked for everyone to pray for the citizens of the great State of Tennessee.
Keep on washing those hands Scott County. Keep personal space at six feet minimum. Avoid large crowds. Assist your neighbors. Together we can beat this thing.