KNOX COUNTY, Tenn — As of Monday, the City of Knoxville is under a state of emergency amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The decision was made by Mayor Indya Kincannon.
It allows her to make budget changes immediately instead of waiting for city council approval — just one of many ways the city and county is staying prepared.
"My mantra is prepared not scared, so we've been working to be prepared not scared and act in a way that best protects the public health of our community," said Kincannon. "I am cognizant of the economic hardships that are being experienced."
Under the state of emergency, Mayor Kincannon is asking people to stay home. "I think public health is paramount and I think our business owners understand that," she said.
Kincannon, alongside the Knox County Health Department, is working to flatten the curve of COVID-19's spread and reduce the number of cases.
"Our business community will face severe cuts to their revenues right now, but hopefully it will be a short term duration," said Kincannon.
This action also partially activated the emergency operations center which addresses people's concerns for social service interruptions. It helps to manage social needs such as school closures and it works to keep homeless shelters safe. Senior centers countywide will also shut down.
"Right now is not the time to panic, right now is the time to be thoughtful," said Dr. Martha Buchanan with the health department. She could not answer how many tests have been given or how many are available.
"We're working together to secure more supplies in hopes to expand testing and possibly have a drive-through testing site," said Buchanan.
Health care leaders assured that people needing to be tested are getting that help.
"If they have a fever, cough or illness that we can't identify another source for, then we test those individuals," said Dr. Joe Childs with East Tennessee Children's Hospital. For now, they ask people to be thoughtful about what they do and how they do it.
Health leaders are also encouraging the community to continue giving blood. There is still a large need for donations.