Video #2 transcript 03/18/2020

Good evening fellow citizens.  Today is March 18, 2020.  Thank you for joining us for today’s broadcast from the Hamblen County Coronavirus Task Force.  We hope these broadcasts will help keep our community informed and updated.  As stated in previous broadcasts, please contact Kellie Smith with any questions or concerns you may have.  She has a new phone number which is a direct line.  This number is posted at the end of this presentation.   


Over the last two days, we have received a few questions and concerns that community members want answered. These responses have been sent to the Task Force for consideration and it is my belief they reflect the opinions of the county leadership.  Please review these responses and contact us if you have any questions.  It is important to note there are still no confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Hamblen County. 


1.         Some businesses/industries are requiring employees who have had respiratory symptoms to secure a physician’s note indicating they do not have COVID-19 before returning to work.  This is not needed or recommended.  The CDC issued a statement which offered the following guidance to employers.   “We should not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work. Healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation.”  At this time, the CDC is also recommending mildly ill people to stay home until they recover and seek medical attention if symptoms become severe. 


We received this message from the hospital concerning this question.  “At this time there are not enough test kits for providers to test everyone.  The test kits currently available are being reserved for those presenting with fever, a dry cough, shortness of breath and have traveled outside of the country.  We anticipate more test kits are coming, but turnaround time on test results so far has been 4 to 5 days.  Unless you need IV fluids or oxygen, the best thing you can do is self-quarantine at home for 14 days.

If employers are concerned about employees exhibiting symptoms, the employees should contact their primary care provider.  If employers are concerned about employees who have traveled abroad or have been on a cruise ship, the best thing they can do is to ask the employee to self-quarantine for 14 days at home before returning to work.  Any threat of the virus will runs its course in this period of time.  Currently, there are not enough test kits to test everyone as an indicator it is ok to return to work.” 


Employers may want to consider other options which require doctor’s note to be out of work and to return back to work.  This requirement may not be practical and may not be aligned with current medical opinion.  Employers may want to require potentially infected staff members to self-quarantine for two weeks and allow employees to return if they are free of any symptoms.   At all times, employees should be encouraged to maintain social distancing at work, wash hands frequently, cover cough and sneezes with a tissue, and avoid personal contact.  


2.         The school district will start a feeding program on March 23 and will continue throughout the school closure.  The school district will start a school feeding program to ensure all children in Hamblen County receive a meal Monday through Friday.  We will serve a free breakfast and lunch to all children in Hamblen County, ages 18 and younger.  During spring break, March 23 – 27, we will provide a pick-up lunch for all children in Hamblen County.  We will serve all meals at Hillcrest Elementary School. We will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.   We can only give meals to the number of children in the vehicle so it is important you bring your children to these stations.  We apologize for the inconvenience but it is federal law which requires the child to be in the car.  The child doesn’t have to reside in Hamblen County.   No identification is needed to verify the age of the child.  


It is our plan to run regular bus routes after spring break to take food to our students. We need a few days to work out the logistics but we should be able to provide food to all children on March 30.   We will post delivery times on our website.  Please monitor this site and we will provide the specifics of this plan in a future broadcast.  In addition to the bus routes, we will have two stationary feeding sites which will be located at Fairview Elementary and West High School.  These sites will be open 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.  

We are also in the process of connecting with other agencies within the county to consolidate our efforts.  It is our hope to connect with those other entities so that we can also provide meals to the adults as we provide meals to the children.  In addition, we want to make sure that we pace ourselves in this effort.  We want to make sure that specific families don’t attempt to hoard food items at the beginning and we run short of food when the situation becomes worse. We need to have a careful and deliberate plan to ensure we have food when it is most needed.  Please contact Kellie Smith if you belong to a church or some other agency and want to provide food.  We will help coordinate that effort to ensure we are effective and efficient concerning distribution.   


3.         There is a possibility we could be out of school for an extended period of time.  Regardless, the school district is prepared to help students remain active with the learning process throughout the school closure.  We have posted information on the school district’s website with on-line curriculum.  High school curriculum will be required and will be graded.  Elementary and middle school work is voluntary and will not be graded.  Parents can visit our websites to become more educated about these on-line curriculum options.  It is important to note that all high school students have access to a district-provided laptop. Parents should pick up these laptops this week if their children were not in school on Monday. 


4.         Charter Communications is offering 60 days of free access to Spectrum Broadband and wi-fi for those who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription.  To be eligible, students must be residing in the home (either k-12 or college).  To enroll in this service, please call 1-844-488-8395. To learn more about this offer, please visit the link to Charter’s website that is posted on our school district website (


5.         The Remote Area Medical event (RAM) scheduled in April at Walters State Community College has been cancelled.  RAM leaders hope to reschedule the event later this year.  Leaders made the decision to cancel because many of the medical providers were uncertain if they could participate in the event.  Their services were needed at their own practices and plane travel was uncertain over the next several weeks. 

6.         The Hamblen County government has activated its response plan. All county government buildings are open but County officials are asking residents to visit only if you have business to transact and bring only the people necessary to conduct the business.The County’s Sanitation Department is asking that residents put their trash in plastic bags before placing the trash in the container for the sanitation workers to pick up. They need your help to stay safe and healthy.


7.         The Boys and Girls Club have cancelled all programming at this time.