KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — In response to combatting the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), city Mayor Indya Kincannon declared a state of emergency on Monday.

The declaration gives “flexibility as needed to have legal and budgetary actions as needed as we cope with COVID-19.” The mayor also strongly urged people to stay home and practice social distancing.

In numbers released by the state there is one case of COVID-19 confirmed in Knox County as of 3 p.m. EDT.

City parks will remain open. Senior centers were directed to close by the end of the day on Monday.

Kincannon made the announcement during a joint press conference with Knox County and East Tennessee health and hospital leaders. Knox County Health Department Executive Director Dr. Martha Buchanan was also present at the press conference.

Some other key takeaways from the press conference:

If you are sick please do not come to the hospital unannounced. Hospitals need to do everything they can to keep their teams and other patients healthy.

If you’re not sick you don’t need to be tested. You should always start with your doctor. Call them first.

Call first. Call first to determine the best level of care. There will be facilities set up in the near future.

MORE: Coronavirus Information Page | WATE

Testing: Knox County just started testing regularly in this community late last week. It’s not everywhere. It’s ramping up and getting established. There’s some variability in where it’s available. We are testing a limited number of people.

Senior Centers: All senior centers will be shut down effective Monday. They will not be open tomorrow.

Restaurants: All restaurants are encouraged to use takeout and delivery services, limit seating to 50% capacity and separate any occupied tables by at least 6 feet.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs speaks at a press conference with other East Tennessee leaders focused on the coronavirus pandemic response. (Photo by Dave Killebrew/WATE)

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs also spoke at the press conference.

“We have to keep in mind that we have to balance what we’re doing with ensuring public safety,” Jacobs said. “People have jobs. This will be a huge hit to our economy. We also have to keep in mind what is happening to the economy.”

Jacobs also issued a statement later Monday afternoon regarding COVID-19:

Dr. Buchanan also said at the press conference that there is a partial activation of the emergency operations center, which can also be activated for health crises. The city is working through the operations center to address people’s concerns.

Currently, Knox County and Knoxville leaders are encouraging people to stay at home and practice social distancing.

In regards to planning for the next steps, Mayor Kincannon said, “My mantra is ‘prepared not scared.’ Act in a way that protects public health. Public health is paramount. Act now; it does flatten the curve.”

Flattening the Curve

(source: CDC)

So, what does “flattening the curve” mean in regards to the novel coronavirus?

According to ABC News, flattening the curve is essentially introducing interventions such as social distancing, hand-washing, and lockdowns to reduce the potential spread of infection. The U.S. can flatten the curve before reaching peak case numbers similar to those other countries.

MORE: Coronavirus Timeline Story | WATE

Measures that we all can voluntarily engage in, such as social distancing and hand-washing can have a tremendous impact, potentially negating the need for more aggressive measures such as a lockdown.