No votes were taken at the emergency meeting on Friday. This came after Knoxville City Council voted to sanction businesses that violated COVID-19 restrictions.
KNOX COUNTY, Tennessee. – The Knox County Health Council met Friday night to discuss further restrictions on stopping the spread of COVID-19 after officials reported a total of 2018 active cases of coronavirus in the county.
It was a special, urgent meeting at which Knox County Health Director Dr. Martha Buchanan presented information on successful mitigation efforts in other states. She began the meeting with a review of indicators in Knox County, together with Dr. James Shamie. She said these were the worst figures the department had ever seen.
Shamiyeh said the pace of new cases of COVID-1
He also said that the degree of positivity of the tests for COVID-19 was over 10% for several days and that there were periodic problems with convalescent plasma deficiency. It is used to treat people with COVID-19 and it encourages people who have had coronavirus to donate plasma to increase supply.
“We are now much more likely than ever to be around someone who has COVID-19, which may not be symptomatic,” Shamie said.
Officials also said cases continue to rise in U.S. states Buchanan said there are fewer states that are fully open as the number of cases increases.
Dr. Maria Hurt said waiting until the week after Thanksgiving would be too late to keep the community safe. Many schools in the county have already said they will remain closed for personal tuition in December.
“What is happening in our community has had a significant impact on our schools,” said Lisa Wagoner.
Buchanan said her staff had reviewed the CDC’s “Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report” for information on coronavirus restrictions. She cites data from Arizona, which show that the increase in COVID-19 cases is slowing and stopping after the stricter restrictions we have introduced.
Glenn Jacobs said the incidence of mental illness has increased due to COVID-19 guidelines and fewer reports of child abuse have been reported, probably because children have fewer opportunities to seek help. Suicides and overdose deaths have also increased, officials said.
However, Hurt mentioned a study by the NIH that found that wearing a mask can reduce anxiety and help alleviate mental health problems.
“The point at which an action is symbolic is over,” said Dr. Shamie. “We need to be careful whether this has the desired effect right now.”
O’Brien said the board could try to require meetings of more than eight people to get permits, but also said it would be difficult to implement the policy. He also said the board could try to identify specific policy points to work on, instead of broad restrictions similar to Kentucky’s.
“Our decisions do not lead to mental health problems. The pandemic is,” Hurt said. “People are actually asking us to step up our efforts to mitigate the consequences.”
She also said that people are connecting with the board to implement more policies and that the growing cases of COVID-19 are undermining consumer confidence and leading to a slower economic recovery.
She recommended limiting the restaurant’s capacity to 25%, returning the alcohol hour to 9pm or other time, and limiting collection rates.
Patrick O’Brien said the board should consider another extraordinary meeting to vote on new measures before their next scheduled meeting on Wednesday. He said it might be too late to wait for the meeting to meet, as the day before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest drinking nights.
“Come on people, things are getting worse,” O’Brien said. “For the good of yourself and everyone else, below. Please be really careful. This virus is killing people.”
He said the board may need to adopt stricter regulations over the next few days.
Buchanan said he could work with the legal board on the regulatory board so that they would be ready from the next meeting for which they could vote. The council discussed convening another extraordinary meeting early next week.
Marcy Ian Souza said it might be worth considering capacity limits for businesses. Charity Menefi said that small social gatherings between friends and colleagues in homes, offices and restaurants were the most important reasons for the COVID-19 cases.
Menefee also said it is becoming increasingly difficult for employees to determine where people are exposed to COVID-19 because so many people are reported.
Officials also talked about regulations in the surrounding counties, which may be more lenient than Knox County. They said it could be difficult to mitigate the impact of nearby counties with looser regulations.
Dr. Patrick O’Brien presented a study showing that limiting the number of people in one place at one time had significant results in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The study was called “COVID-19 Mobility Network Models Explain Inequalities and Information Recovery.”
It says restaurants, fitness centers, cafes, hotels, limited service restaurants and religious organizations are the most effective closures to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases.
O’Brien said 639 companies were identified in Knox County in May, where at least 100 people would visit in more than 15 minutes. He said the information could help the board make decisions in the future.
“I just wanted people to know that we have this and that this information is available to us,” he said.
Buchanan also said Knox County was participating in a pilot vaccine program against COVID-19, but also said it did not mean the county would receive vaccines earlier. She said different types of people, such as first responders or people at risk for COVID-19, will first receive vaccines.
“The state has come up with a multi-level program and levels within the levels,” Buchanan said.
She added that the coronavirus vaccine would not be mandatory. Buchanan said most vaccines are available in two doses; the first vaccine should be stored at extreme cold temperatures, and she said it could be a logistical challenge to spread.
The meeting also took place after Knoxville City Council voted to approve new measures in support of the COVID-19 curfew. Under the new measures, businesses could lose their beer licenses if they serve alcohol after 11 p.m.
The health board scheduled another meeting for 5pm on Monday night to vote on new provisions to delay the spread of COVID-19 ahead of their regular scheduled meeting on Wednesday.