Video #7 Transcript 03/30/2020

Good evening Hamblen County.  Today is March 30, 2020.  We will continue to broadcast throughout the workweek in an attempt to keep our community informed of important issues within the county.  As always, you may contact Kellie Smith if you have specific questions or concerns you want the Task Force to answer.


1.         The Hamblen County Health Department has modified patient/customer service for  all regular programs in order to encourage further community protection from Coronavirus.  Currently, program services such as WIC, Family Planning, Immunizations, Vital Records (birth and death certificates), and others can be provided either over the phone or curbside at the health department building.  Everyone is encouraged to call before coming to the health department for instruction on the safest, best way to receive the requested service.  Phone number for the Hamblen County Health Department:  423-586-6431, then please press 0. Hours of operation are:  Mon.-Fri., 7:00 AM-4:30 PM.


2.         The Morristown City Offices will be closed to the Public.  The City provided the following statement.  The COVID-19 poses a serious risk to public health.  To slow the spread of the virus and practice proper social distancing, we will no longer be able to conduct business in person at the City Center. All City offices will be closed to the public effective 5:00 pm Wednesday March 25th until further notice. We will continue to staff offices and provide services via telephone and online communication. Please see visit the City’s website for how to best communicate and conduct business with City offices. You are urged to keep all travel and business functions to only the most essential needs to protect populations most vulnerable to the disease, slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, and preserve local healthcare capacity. Our staff will continue to provide essential services to meet the needs of our community. Your continued patience and cooperation are greatly appreciated.


3.         The Hamblen County Board of Education will also be closed to the public unless it is a necessity.   Please contact us if you need an appointment and we schedule a time for you to come into the office. The Board of Education offices will be staffed Monday through Friday.  Please contact the board of education at 423-586-7700 if you need anything and we be happy to assist you in whatever you need.  You may also contact Mrs. Karlene Webb at and we will respond back to you as soon as we can.  We sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding during these challenging times.     


4.         The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) is offering several programs and services to assist Tennesseans impacted by COVID-19.  Please refer to the website listed at the end of this broadcast for full details.  However, we will provide a quick summary of some of the most important benefits which have been increased to assist those impacted by the virus.  The first benefit deals with Family Assistance and TANF Emergency Cash Assistance. This Emergency Cash Assistance program will provide cash payments to families significantly impacted by the COVID-19 emergency. Beginning 10 A.M. CST Thursday, March 26, families can begin applying online, for up to two months of emergency cash assistance if they were employed as of March 11, 2020 and they’ve lost employment or at least 50% of their earned income as a result of the pandemic. This money is funded by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and provides between $500 and $1000, depending on household size, to qualifying families. This assistance is available in addition to any unemployment benefits individuals in the family may be receiving.


Applicants can complete the application process online at the website listed at the end of this broadcast.   The second enhanced benefit is the COVID-19 Food Assistance.  The TN Department of Human Services is currently working to provide emergency food assistance benefits to Tennesseans impacted by COVID-19. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available. The third enhanced program is the Child Care Payment Assistance/Smart Steps: The Child Care Payment Assistance/Smart Steps Program is available to qualifying families. Eligibility criteria and application information are available here. The TN Department of Human Services strongly encourages all applicants to apply online. The fourth issue centers around Child Care Facilities.  The TN Department of Human Services is encouraging child care facilities to use their discretion in deciding whether to remain open based on the needs in their own community. There are many factors to consider, and each agency’s situation will be different. As caring citizens and business owners, each program should make the decision that will be the best fit for the program, the families they serve, and the larger community. Again, individuals interested in any of these programs should visit the TN Department of Human Services website for additional information.


5.         The Hamblen County School Nutrition Program will be loading over 20 school buses on March 30 to transport a hot meal to all children throughout the county.  The buses will leave East High School at 10:00 a.m. and will be finished by 1:00 p.m.  The school will be traveling most of the routes we use during the school day.  However, the times and actual stops may varied until the school district works out all of the logistics.  We will also have 2 stationary points for meal distribution.  The school district will have meals at West High School and Fairview Elementary School. These meals are for students 18 years old or younger and they don’t have to been enrolled in Hamblen County Schools.  It is important to note that our food service program will be reimbursed by the federal government for every meal served so we encourage all families to take advantage of this program.  It will actually help the school district to provide lunches to the most needy if all families participate. 


6.         County administration would also like to remind everyone that the courthouse and justice center are open to the public. However, officials ask that you visit county buildings only if you have business to conduct.  Most in-person court proceedings have been suspended through April except in a few cases.   Individuals with pending court cases should have receive notice on the status of their case but individuals can contact the courthouse if they have still have questions.  It is also important to note that President Trump has extended the timeframe to practice social distancing through the month of April.