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Concerns lead to cancellations

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

Locals may want to check the community announcements before heading out to a scheduled event in the upcoming weeks. Multiple entities in Johnson County have canceled future events because of the recent uptick in COVID-19. In the last few weeks, local cases have jumped from 51 to 97, and the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) reports another person has died in Johnson County, making a total of 40 deaths. 

Events vary from reunions to larger-scale community events. For example, the annual talent show was postponed until this October because of the global pandemic. For the “best interest of the contestants, community, and guests,” the Johnson County Community Foundation (JCCF) decided to reschedule again. This event is the foundation’s main fundraising event for the year.

Johnson County’s long-awaited Long Journey Home officially moved to an online event as of the morning of Monday, August 23. According to Johnson County Center for the Arts Director Cristy Dunn, the event’s board decided after speaking to the Johnson County Health Department and not receiving its endorsement. According to Dunn, the health department explained that it cannot endorse any large gathering in a “red zone,” which Johnson County is reportedly in.  

“We do not want to contribute to anyone getting sick or add strain on the healthcare system,” Dunn explained. “This was the only responsible conclusion.”

This state of mind makes sense considering the theme for this year’s Long Journey Home is “I’ll Fly Away,” which is in memory of those who have died in the COVID-19 pandemic. Dunn reports that this year’s mural rests on a building that belonged to one such person, Edith Cornett. 

This event usually draws people to Mountain City. Although they cannot attend in person, anyone can pick up or order a watch party kit from the Johnson County Center for the Arts. Each kit includes instructions on how to tune in virtually, a copy of Liner Notes, a coloring page, lyrics to the titled song, a Lassie cookie made locally, and possibly more. See information here.

More COVID-19 Information
Officials report several new variants of COVID-19 within the United States. The two most notable ones mentioned are the Lambda Variant and B.1.621, which does not have a name yet. Some officials believe these could be more contagious than the Delta Variant, but there is not enough data to know for sure at this time. 

TDH is suggesting that moderately and severely immunocompromised people receive a third dose booster Moderna of Pfizer shot. This Monday, the Pfizer vaccine gained FDA approval, which FDA officials think “may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated.”

For information on the Johnson County Health Department or to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination, call (423) 727-9731. Find the closest vaccine option at vaccines.gov.