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County Mayor declares Local Emergency, issues ‘Safer at Home’ Directive 

Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

In response to the continued spread of coronavirus in our region, Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor issued an Executive Order Monday afternoon, declaring a Local State of Emergency and issuing a ‘Safer at Home’ directive for county residents.

“I continue to work with local and state health officials to monitor the spread of the virus and determine what steps county government can take to help slow the spread of the virus and protect our citizens while still providing the essential services of government,” said Mayor Taylor. “Following the recommendation of our state and local health officials as well as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that states and communities implement aggressive measures to help slow and contain the spread of COVID-19, I declared a Local State of Emergency and issued the ‘Safer At Home’ directive.”

The Local State of Emergency will commence on April 1, 2020, at 12:01 a.m. and will remain in effect until April 7, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. Under Tennessee state law, county mayors can declare a local state of emergency for a period not to exceed seven days, but the law gives authority to the county mayor to extend the local state of emergency in increments of seven days. An emergency declaration allows facilitation of possible funding assistance, supplies, and other assistance made available through the state and the federal government.

Under the ‘Stay at Home’ directive, residents of Johnson County are required to stay inside their homes unless engaged in certain “essential activities,” and on occasions when out of the house for necessary tasks, residents are to stay at least six feet away from others, known as social distancing, which is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

Permitted activities include trips to grocery, convenience or warehouse store, pharmacy, medical appointments, restaurant for take-out, delivery or drive-thru and receiving deliveries. The directive also permits residents to care for or support a friend or family member and assist someone in obtaining necessary supplies. Exercise by biking, walking, hiking, jogging is permitted so long as proper social distancing is observed. Pets can also be walked and taken to the veterinarian if necessary.

The following, deemed “essential” will remain open with caution and utilizing social distancing: federal and state offices and services, including post offices and airports, local government functions including law enforcement, transportation, and businesses that provide government programs and services, food and beverage industry including grocery and beverage stores, farmers markets, food banks, catering, convenience stores selling food, agriculture, food processing, feed mills, and other businesses that directly support the food supply, health care institutions and offices to include mental and behavioral health, biomedical research and businesses that directly support the healthcare industry including health information technology, staffing and supplies, sanitation and waste removal businesses and services, energy, water, and sewage businesses and services, pharmacies and medical supply businesses, and other businesses that directly support the drug and medical supply pipeline, vehicle fuel, support, service stations and businesses, banks, savings and loans, insurance companies, accounting businesses, and other business that directly support the insurance and financial services sector, legal and judicial services, laundromats/laundry/cleaning services, home and business repair, hardware supply, warehousing and storage, construction and facilities design businesses, product logistics, transport, and distribution businesses, parcel transportation and delivery businesses, veterinary and pet supply business and services including agricultural services and the caring and feeding of all livestock and farm animals, home and business cleaning and maintenance services and all businesses which rely upon deliveries may continue, including florists, internet and telecommunications systems including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services, print, online and broadcast media.

In addition, daycare and childcare businesses will remain open but will prioritize children of parents working in essential services, hotels, and commercial lodges will stay open but must end entertainment or dining services in restaurants or group settings. Pick-up and room-service food services may continue, housing and rental services may continue. Still, agents should practice social distancing, hold no open houses, or gather in groups larger than 10, essential services listed above may continue as long as appropriate distancing is physically possible and encouraged. These businesses will adhere to CDC guidance on social distancing and hand hygiene in the workplace, including encouraging work-from-home and allowing employees when possible to work on- site in shifts to optimize social distancing in the workplace.

All essential services, especially grocery stores and pharmacies, are directed to make best efforts to establish hours when only available to senior citizens or otherwise vulnerable populations.

“During this time of uncertainty, as the mayor of Mountain City, I want you to know that I am diligently working with our county mayor, state and federal officials in trying to keep all of us from being exposed to the coronavirus,” said Kevin Parsons, Mountain City Mayor. “Remember, we must be vigilant in our efforts to follow the social distancing guidelines as set forth in Governor Lee’s executive order as well as having been recommended by the CDC.”

The Tennessee Department of Health confirmed 1,834 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, March 30, an increase of 297 cases over the day before. There have been 13 reported deaths. Thus far, cases have been reported in 77 of Tennessee’s 95 counties. There are now two confirmed cases of Covid-19 within Johnson County. Both cases are family-related and come from individuals who had been traveling outside the county. Both are quarantined at this time.

The Emergency Declaration and Safer at Home Directive can be viewed at http://www.johnsoncountytn.gov/