COVID-19 devastation continues to escalate in Tennessee

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On March 23, Henderson Mayor Bobby King closed the playground and restroom facilities of Gene Record Memorial park to control the spread of COVID-19. The Walking Trail and Dog Park will still be available during regular hours. King just urges everyone to keep at least six feet apart.

The dangers and threat of the Coronavirus continues to escalate as Tennessee is up to over 700 cases and the United States has over 46,000 cases. Out of the nationwide total, 500 have resulted in deaths.

About 40 percent of the nation’s states have declared some state of lockdown or stay at home order.

Now colleges and other schools are having to deal with the lasting effect COVID-19 has on everyone. Schools have permanently switched to online for the semester, cancelled all sporting events and more.

Internationally we see the same results with some countries going into lockdown.

On March 24, the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo was also officially postponed to 2021.

These are just a few of the problems the virus is causing worldwide. Read the following to see how COVID-19 affects Chester County residents and to find resources.

Local Actions

On March 20, Henderson Mayor Bobby King authorized the City of Henderson Police Department to initiate their Level Two Public Health Emergency Protocol. Until then, they had been under the Level One Status.

This Level Two status includes but is not limited to the following:

1. The police department is locked down; police reports can be obtained by calling 989-5404 or by email at, aholley@hendersontn.gov

2. Dispatchers have been instructed to ask callers on all calls for service a series of three questions, the answers to these questions will determine the type of response taken by officers.

3. Most non-emergency type calls and reports will now be taken by phone, by a police officer.

4. Officers will not be responding to private property crashes; people are asked to exchange information and contact their insurance agencies.

5. Officers will only respond to motor vehicle crashes on streets and highways that meet the following criteria; crashes with injuries, street blockage, impaired drivers, or crashes where a vehicle left the scene. Any other crash on a street or highway beyond the ones listed will be at the on-duty supervisors’ discretion.

6. All officers requested and/or approved time off is suspended.

7. Officers and staff are required to undergo a health screening, conducted by a supervisor before starting their scheduled shift.

8. Officers and staff are to limit their contact with the public and should always keep 6 feet of separation when interacting with others.

9. Officers and staff are strongly encouraged to follow all CDC guidelines even while off duty.

10. Duty shifts are being adjusted and changed to better fit the guidelines and needs of the Level Two Public Health Emergency Protocol.

According to Chester County Mayor, Barry Hutcherson, due to the spread of COVID-19, the offices of Chester County are closed to the public to protect the health and welfare of its employees as well as its citizens. Offices will still operate under normal hours.

In regards to the CC Election Office, if one needs to register to vote or change your address, complete an application and slide it under the CC Election Office door. Your voter registration card will be mailed to you. For convenience, one may register or make changes to their registration online at www.GoVoteTN.com. For vital election needs such as picking up petitions or returning petitions call 989-4039.

On March 23, Henderson Mayor Bobby King closed the playground and restroom facilities of Gene Record Memorial park to control the spread of COVID-19. The Walking Trail and Dog Park will still be available during regular hours. King just urges everyone to keep at least six feet apart.

Additionally, on March 23, Hutcherson declared a State of Emergency for Chester County due to the Coronavirus. Henderson Mayor Bobby King declared a State of Emergency for the city on March 24.

All updates to measures and actions are as of Tuesday afternoon.

We will continue to provide updates on the Coronavirus on Facebook and website throughout the week.

State Actions

Governor Bill Lee asked on Tuesday afternoon that Tennessee schools remain closed through at least April 24, almost four weeks longer than he advised before the new coronavirus shuttered most businesses and kept many residents under local orders to stay at home. “We believe it’s important and necessary for us to extend that deadline,” Lee said.

On Sunday March 22, Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order 17 which called for businesses across the state to utilize alternative business models to protect vulnerable populations while doing everything possible to keep Tennesseans in a financially stable position.

The executive order accomplishes the below actions, among others:

Prohibits social gatherings of 10 or more people;

Directs restaurants, bars, and similar food and drink establishments to exclusively offer drive-thru, take-out or delivery options to support families, businesses and the food supply chain;

Allows for the sale of alcohol by take-out or delivery (with the purchase of food) in closed containers to those who are age 21 and up;

Directs gyms and fitness/exercise centers or substantially similar facilities to temporarily close and suspend in-person services;

Restricts visitation to nursing homes, retirement homes, and long-term care or assisted-living facilities to essential care only; and

Encourages businesses to enact policies that take extra steps to assist vulnerable populations by considering measures such as shopping hours exclusive from the general public.

On March 23, Lee established the COVID-19 Unified Command, a joint effort led by Commissioner Stuart McWhorter to streamline coordination across the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee Department of Military.

Commissioner McWhorter currently heads the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration and will leave this post to head the COVID-19 Unified Command. Eugene Nubert will serve as acting commissioner of F&A. McWhorter appointed retired Brig. Gen. Scott Brower to serve as chief of staff for the Unified Command.

The COVID-19 Unified Command also includes: Patrick Sheehan- TEMA Director; Dr. Lisa Piercey – Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health; Major General Jeff Holmes –  Adjutant General of the Tennessee Department of Military.

This group is charged with changing the way Tennessee attacks COVID-19 to simultaneously address health, economic and supply crises. Additional information can be found at https://www.tn.gov/governor/news/2020/3/23/gov–bill-lee-establishes-covid-19-unified-command.html.

Personal Protective Equipment

To address one of the greatest challenges during this pandemic, acquiring personal protective equipment (PPE), Tennessee higher education institutions are now utilizing 3D printers to create face shields to be used in conjunction with PPE and to safely extend the life of our supply.

The institutions will produce between 1500-2000 shields which will be centrally packaged at Austin Peay State University, the campus that originated the prototype.

After completion, the PPE equipment will be delivered directly to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

Campuses participating in the initial production of face shields currently includes four Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology and four universities.

Also on March 23, Lee signed Executive Order 18 to further efforts in gaining more personal protective equipment. The executive order prohibits hospitals and surgical outpatient facilities from performing elective surgeries and instructs dentists to halt non-emergency dental services. Practitioners are asked to donate their personal protective equipment at their nearest National Guard Armory until April 13.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) is taking immediate steps to ensure access to critical services and benefits for customers while protecting the health of employees and the public in response to COVID-19. After a careful analysis of foot traffic and the health and safety guidelines for COVID-19 provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Tennessee Department of Health, the TDHS has decided to move to appointment only for in person services beginning Monday, March 23, 2020.

Local offices will have employees available to respond to questions or applications via telephone. Customers can find the number to their local office by going on online https://www.tn.gov/content/tn/humanservices/for-families/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap/office-locator-family-assistance.html. Davidson County’s Office can be reached at (615) 532-4000 from 8:00am until 4:30pm CST Monday through Friday. 

These changes will remain in effect indefinitely for offices in each Tennessee county until the COVID-19 state of emergency is reduced. No issuance of benefits will be impacted as a result of these office closures.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering designated small businesses and nonprofit organizations low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19). As our communities and businesses continue to face the economic impacts of COVID-19, this designation will be a crucial step in providing small businesses the economic capital necessary to overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance per small business. Applicants will need to complete a two-page application, 4506T IRS form to transfer information, and a personal finance statement. More information might be requested for more complex businesses or those seeking a higher loan amount. For questions or for additional information, contact the SBA by phone at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail at disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Other contacts inlcude the SBA’s Tennessee district offices in Nashville at 615-736-5881 or in Memphis at 901-494-6906. For any issues with the SBA, call 629-223-6050.

National Actions

The United States government has made a website to keep everyone up-to-date about the nation’s conditions, resources and actions it has toward the Coronavirus. The website is www.coronavirus.gov

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