The baddest bullfrog

Sandra ClarkOur Town Health

Today’s meeting of the Joint Assembly to Wrap-up Stuff (JAWS) could end up like a Saturday night by the old mill stream. Cue frogs.

This dadgum virus has gone political.

Republicans, aka conservative realists, have declared the COVID crisis over: “Saying so will make it so.” While Democrats, aka liberal idealists, have hunkered down for the long haul: “Send me another check, poppa, and I’ll just stay home.”

Here in East Tennessee, the biggest, bassist bullfrog is the county mayor, Glenn Jacobs. You can be sure he will be pushing to reopen everything that generates sales tax. Libraries? Playgrounds? Oh, no rush.

Dr. Martha Buchanan, director of the Knox County Health Department and chief health officer, has the last word, in theory. But Jacobs could fire Buchanan or decimate her budget or furlough 28 of her employees. Here’s a snippet of the conversation at Monday’s county commission workshop:

John Schoonmaker: We’ve gotta get these wedding venues open. It’s not fair to the ones in Knox County when the ones in Loudon are open.

Charles Busler: I’m asking the legislature to investigate where the health department gets so much power. Why a person can’t even visit his family in the hospital.

Dr. Buchanan: What exactly is your question, Commissioner Busler?

Busler: Well, I know this couple and …….

Buchanan said she will be meeting with the reopening committee today (5/19) and will announce new guidelines at her Facebook briefing at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

Numbers: At Monday’s briefing, Buchanan said Knox County has had 311 cases and 4 probable cases of COVID-19; 261 have recovered and 37 have been hospitalized at some point; no one is currently hospitalized and there have been 5 deaths.

“The data look good, and we’re encouraged about that,” she said. In response to questions, she said families can meet. “Maintain six feet (distance between people), limit the group to 10, and use common sense.”

Gov. Bill Lee and his wife, Maria Lee, deliver meals to Gold Star families, to mark the one-year anniversary of her initiative, Tennessee Serves.

Memphis: Four floors of the former Commercial Appeal newspaper office will be used as the Mid-South region’s COVID-19 alternate care site if necessary, Gov. Lee said. He toured the facility with a delegation of Shelby County leaders and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

The Memphis site provides an additional 401 bed spaces to treat C-19 patients if area hospitals begin to exceed their bed capacity, and is set up with only base supplies currently, such as beds, chairs, tables and IV poles. Medical equipment and supplies will be put in place if the site is activated to receive and treat patients who test positive for C-19 and experience symptoms requiring low-acuity hospital care.

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis will provide medical direction for the care of patients if the facility is occupied.

Previously published

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.


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