TRI-CITIES (WJHL) – When we look back at the COVID-19 pandemic, what will we remember?

Local mayors addressed their communities in an open letter this week, pleading for community members to comply with infection prevention measures to control the surging COVID-19 pandemic.

Signed by mayors in Unicoi, Johnson, Sullivan, Washington, Carter and Greene counties, the letter is underscored with a sense of urgency and fraught with warnings of what a continued surge of COVID-19 could mean to the community.

“No health system is capable of caring for a limitless number of patients,” the letter reads. “There are constraints on space, on staffing and on the well-being of frontline healthcare workers that must be taken into consideration.”

The letter warns that without a collective effort to control the pandemic, the region could suffer “devastating and catastrophic outcomes.”

The letter implores residents to stay home as much as possible, avoid large gatherings, and to wear a mask when leaving their homes. It echoes pleas from healthcare officials over the past nine months, asking citizens to do whatever is necessary to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Will we think of how our healthcare workers and businesses crumbled?” the letter asks. “Or will we see this year as the time our community came together, stepped up and did everything they could to overcome this virus?”

You can read the full letter here: