Last week, Mayor Andy Berke took steps to help our community stay safe and healthy amid the spread of novel coronavirus or COVID-19. Included in these measures are indefinitely suspending public events and suspending activity and public access at multiple City of Chattanooga facilities for the foreseeable future. These sites include:
- All Chattanooga Youth and Family Development Centers
- All branches of the Chattanooga Public Library
- The Eastgate Senior Center
Other branches of City Government are taking additional precautions out of an abundance of caution for the community and City employees.
- Additionally, at the request of the Tennessee Supreme Court, the Chattanooga City Court will not hear any cases from Monday, March 16 through Tuesday, March 31. The City Court Clerk’s Office will remain open during regular business hours to answer any questions and to accept payments. Any person who has been cited to Court during these two weeks will be notified of a new court date by the Clerk’s Office.
- The Chattanooga City Council will vote at the Tuesday, March 17 Strategic Planning meeting to suspend their meetings for the remainder of the month. The City Charter requires that the Council meet twice a month, which was done on March 3 and March 10.
As of Sunday, March 15, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance for large events and mass gatherings as a means to help stop the spread of COVID-19. These recommendations include:
- For the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.
- Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.
This recommendation does not apply to the day-to-day operation of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses. This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus. This recommendation is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials.
Mayor Berke and City staff are monitoring the situation daily and at this time ask that residents continue to practice social distancing and good hygiene practices such as regularly washing hands and disinfecting commonly used surfaces. Once it is safe to do so, the City intends to reopen the YFD centers, libraries, Eastgate Senior Center and resume after-school programming,
Ensuring that our young people continue to receive regular meals is a top priority, and Hamilton County Schools (HCS) has arranged food pick-up points at schools and other locations throughout the community beginning Tuesday, March 17; their food pickup plan can be viewed here.
Additionally, HCS will host a Continued Learning TV Broadcast via WTCI-TV on Monday, March 16 to share information and resources to support families with continued learning through the school closure. Viewers can call into the phone bank, which will be staffed with school personnel to answer any questions.
Stay informed using reliable information sources, such as the CDC and the Tennessee Department of Health. The Hamilton County Health Department has a hotline to answer any questions about COVID-19. The number is (423) 209-8383.
The safety and health of the Chattanooga community and its employees are the City’s top priority and we appreciate everyone’s patience during this time.