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Johnson County responds to COVID-19

By Meg Dickens
STAFF WRITER

Johnson County and the surrounding areas are working diligently to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Local businesses and organizations are closing rapidly. The Johnson County Senior Center, Johnson County Center for the Arts, certain court sessions, Johnson County Schools, and local sports competitions are closed for the time being. Nearby events, including CareerQuest 2020 and the 2020 Vex Robotics World Tournament are canceled. Barter Theatre and Grandfather Mountain are closed for now.
Other organizations proceed with caution. Ballad Health is implementing more strict visiting hours as well as screening visitors for signs of the coronavirus. State parks are still open as well as the Johnson County Farmers Market. Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor announced that the county government plans to stay open.
“As you are aware, this situation changes daily if not hourly. I continue to be in contact with the State Department of Health and other governmental agencies,” Mike Taylor commented on the COVID pandemic.
Johnson County Schools School Nutrition Director Kathy McCulloch is
working on a plan to distribute food to students while county schools are closed. McCulloch plans to make a program based on the current Summer Food Service
Program. Currently, McDonald’s in Mountain City is offering students a free specified meal between 11 AM and 2 PM starting on March 16. Other organizations such as Saint Anthony’s Bread offered
“This is going to require us to be patient and understand that we will get through this trying time,” said Mayor Taylor.
Governor Bill Lee issued Executive Order No. 14, declaring a state of emergency in Tennessee. Order No. 14 implements the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan, allows out of state health care professionals to treat COVID-19 patients, expands testing sites, and inserts protections against emergency and health-related items.
A plethora of sources from government officials and disease control organizations suggest that washing your hands is one of the most important steps people can take to avoid catching the virus. By following this advice and avoiding large crowds, the public can help stop the spread.
“Please, for the sake of
your senior family members, listen and act to protect yourselves and our
community,” said concerned Johnson County citizen Paul Maulden. “We need to work together. We can’t control the virus but we can control whether we become a hotspot.”