By Meg Dickens
The current strain of Novel Coronavirus (COV-19) took center stage at the Thursday, March 19, Budget Committee meeting. Attendees and board members spread out as much as space would allow. County Mayor Mike Taylor took a moment to update the community both there and in an interview after the meeting. Mayor Taylor stays in contact with Tennessee state officials as well as local officials. Johnson County is still COVID-19 free, but surrounding counties’ cases are climbing. Taylor encourages the public to use good common sense and follow CDC guidelines.
One thing that has the public alarmed is the plethora of empty shelves in surrounding grocery stores. Other than the toilet paper shortage, sources say that there is a serious lack of produce and non-perishables. Mayor Taylor and Johnson County Sheriff Eddie Tester assure the public that supplies are available. According to Taylor’s contacts in grocery stores, supplies are still there. Fear-induced hoarding is disrupting the normal flow of business stocking, but stores are working to adjust.
Mayor Taylor states that government business is still happening but with limited exposure. The Johnson County Courthouse is limiting how many people can be in certain areas at a time and pushing back some cases. The Budget Committee discussed switching to a call-in type of meeting in case of worsening conditions. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office has stopped visitation and started checking each arrestee for signs of COVID-19 before processing them.
During the meeting, Mayor Taylor mentioned that he has the authority from the governor’s office to declare a State of Emergency, which would close down the county for a week. So far, he has not acted on that authority. Local businesses are restricting or closing down during this. In a recent statement, City Mayor Kevin Parsons asked that restaurants restrict their services, churches close or stream services, and gyms to close for public safety. It seems like people are complying.
See information on what restaurants are open and serving take-out in this week’s paper and online. For more information on COVID-19, call the Tennessee Department of Health’s public information line at (877) 857-2945.