March 25, 2020
For immediate release
March 25 City of Johnson City COVID-19 update:
As the impact of the coronavirus evolves, the Johnson City Board of Commissioners and City staff continue to work closely with state officials, the Tennessee Department of Health, and strategic partners to keep our community safe. With confirmed COVID-19 cases in our area largely attributed to travel, the Commission asks all citizens to reschedule nonessential travel outside the area.
“While most of the cases in our region are travel related, experts believe we soon will see community spread. The best prevention is to stay at home,” said Mayor Jenny Brock. “Do not travel outside the area if you can help it, and if you must, you should plan to isolate yourself for 14 days when you return to ensure you do not have the virus.”
Although there has been no mandate from state or public officials to remain at home, staying at home continues to be one of the most effective ways of limiting transmission of the virus.
“You are certainly safer at home,” Brock said. “Together, we can slow the spread of this virus, which is a critical step in helping our healthcare system be able to manage the number of patients it’s treating.”
The Commission thanks those businesses and organizations that have prioritized the health of our community as they’ve made the difficult decisions to modify business models, suspend operations or close indefinitely.
In addition to the closure of City-owned facilities and schools, these include:
- East Tennessee State University, which has suspended in-person classes and moved instruction to online formats.
- Churches that have replaced traditional services with digital or drive-in options.
- Several large manufacturers that have adjusted shifts to continue operations while keeping employees socially distanced.
- Movie theaters, the mall, and numerous retailers that have closed until further notice or implemented delivery/pickup services.
Gov. Lee’s Executive Order 17 mandates the closure of dining rooms as well as gyms and similar facilities. It limits nursing home/assisted living visitors to those providing essential care. It also prohibits gatherings of 10 or more, and calls for special shopping times for vulnerable populations.
Businesses that fall outside the parameters of this order are asked to adhere to the following guidelines as they remain open:
- Limit the number of people in the physical space at one time to less than 10.
- Ensure social distancing among customers and employees.
- If your business involves waiting times, have customers wait in their vehicles.
- Provide hand sanitizing stations.
- Wipe down door handles, counters and other public areas multiple times per day.
- Immediately send sick personnel home.
The City of Johnson City has also taken measures to protect its employees and citizens. To date, these include:
- Closing City Hall, all recreational and community centers, and all lobbies to the public.
- Implementing alternative methods of conducting business such as opening a drive-thru window for payments at Fire Station 8 in Gray and creating a walk-up payment window at City Hall.
- Canceling or postponing all sports and recreation programming, events and meetings, with the exception of City Commission, which will meet electronically.
- Closing schools until April 27, per Gov. Bill Lee’s recommendation.
- Encouraging employees who can work from home to do so, and isolated as many workers as possible within City buildings. Work groups have been divided and other measures taken such as alternative working hours.
- Implementing screening measures to ensure employees who must report to a City facility are healthy.
“The City is doing its part and we ask everyone to step up and commit to stop the spread. Remember, what we do may impact others’ health, and what they do may impact ours,” Brock said. “Also, the City asks all businesses that remain open to complete a written COVID-19 Emergency Protection Plan that outlines the procedures in place to protect their employees and the public. We can dramatically reduce the impact of COVID-19 in our area if we all work together.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Tennessee Department of Health remain the best resources for timely and accurate information about COVID-19. For additional information, please visit https://www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.html. Additional resources and City information can be found at www.johnsoncitytn.org/COVID-19.