Gov. Bill Lee continues to open Tennessee businesses in the 89 counties without county-operated health departments. On Friday, Lee removed capacity restrictions on restaurants and retail and issued guidelines to facilitate the safe reopening of larger, non-contact attractions on or after May 22. Full text: Gov Lee_Restaurants_Retail_Large Attractions_Final
Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs quickly released a statement saying Knox County should follow suit. “COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon so we must continue to take personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our community by following physical distancing guidelines and other public health recommendations.”
The Knoxville-Knox County Reopening Task Force, led by the Knox County Health Department, will meet next week. They will share more information on Phase Two by Thursday, May 21. Knox County’s three-phase chart:
Numbers: From the health department at Friday’s briefing, Knox County’s COVID-19 cases remained static at 305 with three probable cases. Of these, 67 are active with 1 currently hospitalized, 5 have died and 233 have recovered.
Testing: The health department continues drive-through testing on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Those interested should call 865-215-5555 to receive a block of time in which to arrive. “We will prioritize testing for those at higher risk for complications, contacts to cases and health care workers. Tuesdays and Thursdays are reserved to support targeted testing, such as higher-risk or vulnerable populations and cluster situations.”
Food distribution: In Knox County since schools were closed:
- Knox County Schools: Served 120,870 individuals through emergency feeding program. A total of 557,466 meals have been distributed
- Great Schools Partnerships: Distributed 46,900 meals. Also distributing toilet paper, diapers and other needs to individuals being served.
- YWCA: 219 individuals served. Provided transitional housing for 58 women (with social distancing measures).
- Youth and Child Services Group: In addition to KCS’s summer feeding program, 35,000 youth have been served with supplemental food services, educational, and relationship service.
- CAC has 70 different daily food delivery routes, and is delivering food to the high-rises once a week. These routes serve roughly 900 individuals.
Hand Sanitizer: City and county law enforcement and first responders accepted a combined 80 gallons of liquid hand sanitizer bottled and branded by KaTom Restaurant Supply at a media event this week. The Kodak-based company began bottling and branding the new sanitizer about a month ago.
DOE: Tennessee Department of Education’s COVID-19 resources webpage has reached over 250,000 views since launching in mid-March. Commissioner Penny Schwinn said the webpage is updated frequently.
WBHOF: Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame has reopened with C-19 protocols. Info: https://www.wbhof.com/
Sen. Lamar Alexander, on an interview with National Public Radio, advocated reopening schools and colleges in the fall: “There are 100,000 public schools – 50 million children; there are 6,000 colleges – 20 million students. We have to think about the impact on those children of not going to school for a year. I think part of our leadership responsibility is to not just throw up our hands and say, ‘No, we can’t do it.’ It’s to say, ‘We’re going to make every effort to do it safely.’”
Free Wi-Fi is available in the parking lots of six senior centers in Knox County. Locations: Free WiFi
Knox County libraries are closed, but online service continue. Details here.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park reopening info here.
Health Department Hotline: 865-215-5555
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Info updated as it becomes available.