CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Officials with Carter County are looking to step up safety protocols after the first reported case of COVID-19 in the county.
The Tennessee Department of Health confirmed that case on Saturday, along with one other case in Johnson County, which borders Carter County.
Leaders are expected to make an announcement on Monday about measures they’ll put in place to address the recent case.
Just last week, the county implemented visitation restrictions on county buildings.
Carter County Mayor Rusty Barnett issued the following statement on the county’s Facebook page.
“As you may be aware, on Saturday the Northeast Regional Health Office, which is a division of the Tennessee Department of Health, confirmed a case of coronavirus in Carter County. Our neighbors in Johnson County also received confirmation of a case in their county as well. With these two new confirmed cases, every county in Northeast Tennessee has now had at least one positively identified case of the pandemic virus. According to the Northeast Regional Health Office, in several of the cases in our region the patient has no history of travel to an area experiencing a severe outbreak and no contact with a known case of coronavirus, which officials there state indicates a likely spread in the community throughout our region.
Since the virus first began impacting Tennessee and our neighboring states I have been working closely with local and state officials as well as the experts with the Tennessee Department of Health to monitor the spread of the virus and develop the best response plan for Carter County based on the most current information available. As with any type of emergency, new information is constantly becoming available and the situation changes rapidly, sometimes in the course of an hour or two. Carter County will continue working with local, state, and federal officials alongside the Tennessee Department of Health to do all that we can to help protect our residents while still providing the essential services that our citizens rely on us to provide. On March 24, I met with the elected officials and department heads of Carter County and we implemented Phase II of our Continuity of Operations Plan developed to help guide our response to this pandemic. This move limited public access to Carter County facilities, including the courthouse, to emergency business only as a means of not only helping to fight the spread of the virus for our citizens but as a means to protect our employees as well. With a case of coronavirus now confirmed in our county, I will be working with Carter County officials as well as our state and regional partners to review our response plan and take any additional actions or implement any additional measures we feel are necessary to protect the health and welfare of our community and its residents. I will make an announcement sometime on Monday regarding these discussions and what actions we will be taking as this virus continues to spread in our region.
I would like to take this opportunity to once again impress upon everyone the importance of following the guidelines the CDC and the Tennessee Department of Health have advocated to help slow the spread of the virus and to help ‘flatten the curve.’ Please practice social distancing and eliminate any unnecessary risk of exposure by remaining at home as much as possible and only going out into the public for essential supplies. If you are sick or feel unwell, please stay at home and contact your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Wash your hands often with soap and water, making sure to scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. Maintain a safe distance of at least 6 feet from others when outside of your home on essential errands. The Northeast Regional Health Office has launched a Coronavirus Public Information Line which is available daily from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. by calling 423-979-4689. If you are concerned about your health, contact your healthcare provider.
I know these are difficult and often scary times that we are going through right now, but I would like to ask you to focus on being prepared instead of scared. We need to work together to make sure we get through this.”