Hamblen County Coronavirus Task Force Transcript

Good evening fellow citizens of Hamblen County.  My name is Jeff Perry.  I currently serve as superintendent of schools for the Hamblen County Board of Education. I am also a member of the Hamblen County Coronavirus Task Force.   This task force is comprised of various members of the community who are directly connected with education, medical services, first responders, law enforcement, and public health.  The following individuals serve on this committee.


Bill Brittain, Hamblen County Mayor, Chair

David Purkey, Retired Homeland Security  

Dr. Jeff Perry,  Hamblen County Superintendent of Schools

Gary Chesney, Morristown City Mayor

Tony Cox, Morristown Manager

Marshall Ramsey, Morristown Chamber of Commerce President

Chris Bell, Hamblen County EMA Director

Danny Houseright, Morristown–Hamblen EMS Director

Gordon Lintz, Morristown Hamblen Covenant Healthcare Hospital Administrator 

Aundrea Mills, Chief Nursing Officer  

Tony Miksa, President of WSCC

Sherrie Montgomery, Hamblen County Health Department Director

Monica Hicks, Hamblen County Nursing Supervisor

Beth Fancher, Hamblen County Assistant Nursing Supervisor


This task force has four primary objectives.  First, we will provide our community with the most current and factual information on the Coronavirus status in Hamblen County.  Second, we will help coordinate all health-related, safety, and community services necessary to ensure the wellbeing of our citizens. Third, we will disseminate information and encourage preventive measures to limit and decrease the virus impact on Hamblen County.  Fourth, we will help answer questions our community members may have and serve as the primary point of contact for those in need. 


We will produce a video virtually every day to keep our community informed and to help answer any questions you may have.  Please visit the school district’s webpage (www.hcboe.net) to access the Coronavirus Task Force updates.  Public health, law enforcement, first responders, medical providers, educational programs (both K-12 and colleges), and others will use this portal as the primary point of contact.  This will be the most reliable and current source of information you can receive concerning Hamblen County’s response to the Coronavirus. 


Individuals may submit questions and concerns which will be answered on the video. Please submit questions or concerns to Mrs. Kellie Smith (smithk@hcboe.net) or contact us at 423-586-7700.   Citizens can also pick up a paper copy of the presentation at the Hamblen County Board of Education if you cannot access the internet.  In addition, we have an automated text/email/voice messaging system that can provide community members with important updates through the Citizens Tribune. You can register for this services on the Citizens Tribune website if you would like to receive these emergency messaging updates.  Nothing more is required if your contact information is current.



Third, we are very concerned that healthcare and safety providers will be unable to perform critical services for the community due to the closure of school.  Individuals within these professions could be forced to make a decision between work or staying home with young children. We hope to help with this decision to some degree.  The task force will provide free childcare during the workweek for any parent working in the hospital, medical clinics, first responders, EMS, law enforcement, fire protection, or any other health/safety profession.  Please contact Mrs. Stacy Gibson at 423-276-0668 to determine eligibility for this daycare. We will start this program on Tuesday, March 17, and continue until school reopens or the spread of the virus forces us to cancel the program. 


In addition to this program, we will also provide services for parents who must work but have no child care options. There will be a fee ($15 for the first child and $10 for additional siblings per day) for this program. Again, please contact Mrs. Gibson for fee payments and availability.  These programs will be held at Hillcrest Elementary School.   We will open at 6:00 a.m. and close at 6:00 p.m. 


Finally, it is imperative that we maintain safe health practices.   Individuals are encouraged to adopt the following practices:


1. Avoid large groups and maintain social distancing

2. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

3. Stay at home if you are sick

4. Cough/sneeze into a tissue and throw into trashcan

5. Avoid travel – especially to areas where the contagion is more likely

6. Avoid use of water fountains, water coolers, and office coffee pots

7. Stop sharing food or drinks

8. Avoid touching face, eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands

9. Avoid sharing personal items (phones, clothing, hats, pens, etc.)

10. Use hand sanitizer and wipes frequently

11. Encourage a “no personal contact” policy in schools which includes:

a. No shaking of hands

b. No fist bumps

c. No hugging or close contact

12. Keep interior doors open when possible to help eliminate unhealthy hand surface contact

13. Limit visitors into your workplace and home  

14. Maintain social distancing when possible


It is extremely important that individuals with mild symptoms, that are not life threatening, remain at home.  Please don’t go to the emergency room or clinics.  There is little that medical professionals can provide to improve your condition.  However, you may spread the virus to health care providers who then would not be able to treat more patients with more serious medical issues.   Remain at home and rest.   


The Coronavirus could likely to spread in our community, and we have not yet experienced the full impact.  We can decrease the impact of the virus by adopting basic health practices and monitoring our own physical condition.   However, we possess the firm belief the virus will eventually diminish, and we will return to normal.   Someone sent me a text yesterday with the hashtag – “power in the struggle”. This is an appropriate message for all of us.  We must keep the faith and maintain a resolute spirit during this time.  These next several weeks will be difficult, but these challenges will not define us.  We will be defined by our courage, our care for others, and our response to these challenges. Take care of yourself, your family, and those in need.  Avoid the tendency to criticize and demean others who are attempting to help.  Become one of those individuals who are reaching out a hand to help instead of those who are negative and nonproductive.  Let our actions and words be inspiring to those around us.  Our strength and success resides in our ability to work together and help each other.   Please do not hesitate to contact the Task Force if we can be of any assistance.   We are here to serve this community and will do all that we can to ensure Hamblen County thrives during this ordeal.  We wish you the very best.