Video #1 Transcript 03/17/2020

Good evening fellow citizens of Hamblen County.  I am Jeff Perry, superintendent of schools and a member of the Hamblen County Coronavirus Task Force.  Today is March 17, 2020 and I am presenting the following update.    


As we stated in a previous broadcast, individuals may submit questions and concerns to the Task Force which we will answer in future presentations.   Please submit questions or concerns to Mrs. Kellie Smith.  Her contact information is included at the end of this presentation.  In addition, we are adding websites and other contact information which will provide our citizens with the most current and reliable information on the virus. 


First, the Governor announced yesterday that all public schools will be closed through March 31.  Per the Governor’s declaration, we have closed schools through March 31. 


Second, we have opened our extended school program for community members today.  We started the program this morning with approximately 100 students.  All children were screened at the door for fevers and were asked to return home if they demonstrated any signs of the virus.  Students were grouped into small clusters of 10 -15 students to decrease the possibility of infection.  We have assigned additional custodians to thoroughly clean the buildings on a continuing basis and we have spent a significant amount of time with the students discussing basic health practices.  These services are free for all children this week.  Starting next week, parents will be charged $15 per day for the first child and $10 per day for the second child.  Parents working in any of the health or public safety professions will receive free day care.  Yesterday, I provided the wrong contact information for Mrs. Gibson.  He contact number is 423-273-0668. 


Third, we are concerned about the impact of the virus on our at-risk community members. This includes our elderly and those with already comprised health conditions. These individuals may be reluctant to venture out of their home for fear of contracting the virus.  This could impact their ability to receive medical care, secure prescriptions, and purchase food and supplies. It is our hope family and friends would be your first contact for assistance.  However, we know that not everyone will have access to those individuals. We are asking all high risk community members to contact Mrs. Kellie Smith and let us know about your situation.   We will record your information and begin to make plans to assist you if necessary.  Although normal procedures for securing needed supplies should be used at this time, the task force will arrange services to ensure you receive any necessary supplies or food during the pandemic if the situation becomes worse. 


Fourth, we are beginning to document all of the community resources within the county that can be used to help our citizens.  We are familiar with all of the governmental agencies which provide assistant to our community.  However, we want to create a directory of all non-governmental resources within the county.    At some point, we may need individuals to help with transportation, distribution of food, care of the elderly, and a host of other actions.   Please contact Mrs. Smith if you can be assistance to the effort of helping others.  Please be prepared to share with us what specific assistance you, or your organization, can provide.  We will create a directory of services and contact you if your specific services are needed.


Finally, I want to take a moment to personally recognize some incredible people within our community.  One of the most difficult and demanding professions at this time may be connected with being a health care provider.  At every hour of the day, these individuals must leave the relative safety of their homes and head to work.  While many of us are attempting to evade the virus, they are walking toward it on a daily basis.   These individuals put aside their own interests to ensure the rest of us receive the proper medical attention and care.  What kind of individual would make that type of personal sacrifice?  Clearly, it is an individual who has committed him or herself to serving others.  It is an individual willing to place themselves in harm’s way to ensure we are safe.  It is an individual worthy of our appreciation.  Regardless if those individuals are a physician, nurse, receptionist, support staff, technician, administrator, member of the EMS, public health, food service worker, or any other health care provider – we owe them so much during this time. 


It is critical we help these individuals do their job and allow them to remain healthy.  Please observe the following when interacting with the hospital, clinic, or public health.


1.         Remain at home if your symptoms are limited to a cough, mild fever, and slight difficulty with breathing.  Very little can be done to assist you a medical facility and you significantly increase the chances of infecting one of these providers.


2.         Limit, or remain at home, if a family member or friend is hospitalized.  We completely understand the desire and need to be with a loved one but your presence in the hospital could compromise that individual.  In addition, you could comprise the health care provider and thus reduce the number of people able to provide care to your family member.  We know it is difficult but demonstrate your love of family members by staying home during this virus. 


3.         Attempt to limit trips to medical clinics and hospitals for routine and minor health conditions. It is critical we allow medical professionals to focus their limited resources on those most in need.


4.         Stay healthy if possible.  Watch your weight, exercise, monitor your blood sugar levels, take your medications regularly, eat well, avoid possible infections, and do all you can to stay healthy.  This will reduce trips to medical facilities and allow care givers to focus on the most at-risk. 


We should learn from these individuals and the example they have given to the rest of us.  Daily, they place the needs of others before their own.  They sacrifice to ensure the rest of us receive care.  A couple months ago, a group of students performed at a board meeting.  Their song was entitled, “What if the rest of us was like the best of us?”  What if the rest of us placed aside our own needs to help others?  With this attitude, we can look back on this adversity and realize it was our finest moment.  Demonstrate strength in the struggle.  Thank you for your attention to this broadcast and know we are here to help you.