Greeneville scales back to Phase II after spike in local COVID-19 cases

Local Coronavirus Coverage

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – About a month after the Town of Greeneville entered Phase 3 reopening plans, officials with the town announced Wednesday measures to scale back to Phase 2 of the town’s reopening plan.

Town officials released a press release with details on Wednesday, detailing the townwide measures that would be taken to try and curb the spread of COVID-19. City manager Todd Smith said that officials designed the town’s reopening plan for an occasion in which the town would have to scale back.

“When we created the plan we knew it was, there was a good possibility of us going back, and we anticipated that and we knew when businesses and restaurants started opening back up that there’s going to be a spike,” he said.

“It’s us trying to be proactive and when we see a spike in numbers, let’s try to get out in front of the spread of this so that we can go back and encourage the community to wear masks, keep their social distancing so that when we see a spike in numbers, that gets mitigated as much as possible.”

Smith said citizens will notice the biggest changes in town parks as the town will shut down playgrounds and basketball courts. Smith said citizens are encouraged to conduct any town hall service online or by phone, but stressed that town hall will remain open for all regular services.

He also said that the town will still host an Independence Day celebration this weekend, but celebrations will look a little different than they have in the past as the town is trying to discourage gatherings of more than 50 people.

“We are still doing fireworks, the fireworks will be downtown but we are encouraging people if you come downtown to look at them, stay in your car, if you have to get out, make sure you’re within the appropriate distance from other folks,” he said.

So far, Greeneville is the only municipality to fall back on a previous reopening phase. Smith said that town officials monitor data from the state department to make decisions on reopening phases.

In addition to communicating with Ballad Health officials to monitor bed capacity, Smith said town officials also consider the number of new cases reported per day and the percent of active COVID-19 cases relative to the town’s population.

“In our case, when it gets above, 0.02% of our population, we look at going back and so at this point, it’s about 0.039% of our population,” he said, adding that the county has experienced five consecutive days of new COVID-19 caes.

According to data released by the Tennessee Department of Health, Greene County reported an increase of 27 COVID-19 cases in the past week. Smith noted that this increase is larger than at any other point in the pandemic.

Greeneville lifted restrictions to Phase 3 on May 26.

According to the release, under Phase II, the following guidelines will go into effect:

  • Town buildings open with social distance practices in place
  • Full staffing of Town departments; no work at home for employees
  • PPE and other equipment worn by employees for up-close interactions with the general public
  • Meetings can happen in person and attendees will maintain social distancing of at least 6 ft
  • No travel restrictions
  • Municipal parks open with the exception of playgrounds, basketball courts and swimming facilities
  • Roby Center closed but still serving meals

New guidelines were also added:

  • Employees will be highly encouraged to wear masks.
  • Employees handling money will be highly encouraged to wear gloves.
  • Every work center will sanitize/clean high traffic areas every two hours.
  • Employees’ will be screened with temperature checks to ensure wellness when arriving to work.
  • Security door at Town Hall will be closed. Other doors will be open as possible.
  • Public restrooms and employee restrooms are being designated at both Town Hall and EastView Rec Center.

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