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Johnson County extends emergency declaration

By Tamas Mondovics

Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor has once again deferred his Safer-At-Home Directive to Gov. Bill Lee’s recent Executive Order #23, requiring Tennesseans to stay home unless engaging in essential activity or essential services.  Taylor extended the County’s Emergency Declaration for another seven days as well as his Executive Order #2 stating the courthouse will be limited only to emergency and constitutional issues. Gov. Bill Lee’s announcement to extend the order until April 30, came on Monday during a regularly scheduled media briefing on COVID-19. Executive Order # 27.

As if the current health crisis was not enough, the briefing came with an update on the weekend storms of high winds and tornadoes that roared through the state, causing significant damage and leaving death and destruction in its wake. While the numbers seem to shine a more positive light on the health crisis, Gov. Lee emphasized the need to keep vigilant when he said, “We are not out of the woods yet.”

Lee added that if “this disease can come roaring back with a vengeance, and the progress we have made could be erased.”

The Governor’s warnings are by no means unfounded as many area residents are yet to catch up with the importance and seriousness of the order.  A case in point was a recent event that drew a sizable crowd together in defiance of the emergency order.  

The Cherokee Bowhunters Club indoor event held on Saturday, April 4, as reported by a concerned citizen, saw dozens of supporters representing citizens from Johnson County as well as the State of Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia, who had come together for the event.

Commenting on county officers allowing the function to move forward, as planned, that evening and weekend; knowing the mandate to only engage in essential activity or essential services, Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor said that his office was not aware of the event until it was brought to his attention the day of its planned time frame.

“When I heard if the event, I contacted Sheriff Tester, who then went out to the site and told all in attendance to end the event and follow the order,” Taylor said. “That’s about all we can do with these kinds of functions.”

Taylor was positive about the community’s response to the order when he said, “For the most part, people in Johnson County are doing well following the order.”  Taylor also encourages  residents to continue following the order, as Governor Lee has declared it, and now extended until the end of this month.

In cooperation with the guidance from the White House, Tennessee’s Stay at Home Order is officially extended through April 30.

“The Unified Command Group will continue to consult with experts, analyze all available data, and monitor CDC recommendations for the remainder of this month,” Lee said. “Beginning in May, a phased reboot of the economy is planned.”

Gov. Lee announced the development of the Economic Recovery Group to focus on a phased reboot of the state economy. The group will be led by Tourism Commissioner Mark Ezell and will work in coordination with legislative leadership, local mayors, health care professionals, and representatives of impacted industries. The Economic Recovery Group will issue industry-specific guidance so that businesses can be prepared to operate safely and protect their employees and customers.

According to the Governor, by formalizing an economic recovery specific group will ensure the Unified Command Group will continue their focused efforts of disease management, improving hospital and testing capacity, and increasing our PPE supply chain.

“The Unified Command Group will be making recommendations to me about when and  how to begin the phased-in reopening of the economy,” Lee said.

That COVID-19 has changed lives and introduced new norms; there is little doubt.  One thing is sure, residents are urged to follow the guidelines of the order, and work with local and state government to help bring this health crisis to an end. For more information about the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic and to see the details of the current executive order, please visit