Coronavirus Tennessee: Knox County Health Director Buchanan ‘has concerns’ about County Commission’s health proposals

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Dr. Martha Buchanan, director of the Knox County Health Department, is looking for cooperation rather than repetition of services when it comes to making health and economic decisions.

Two proposals were made at the Knox County Commission work session Monday, one proposing the creation of a health and economic advisory board to the county mayor and another ordinance relating to how the Knox County Board of Health will conduct its meetings.

Dr. Buchanan reiterated the need for cooperation when it comes to decisions of local health and economics during the Knox County Health Department health briefing on Tuesday.

“I have concerns about duplicating efforts and having too redundancy in how we’re doing things,” she said. “We need to come together and make a decision about what is best for the community; making decisions around health and economics.”

Knox County Commissioner Justin Biggs said on Monday he is trying to get a meeting of county commissioners, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, Buchanan, and the chair of the Community Health Council together on Thursday. Buchanan said she will be there to listen and participate.

The meeting was going to take place Thursday at Casen’s Steakhouse, but was canceled Tuesday afternoon according to a release from the commission. No rescheduling date was given.

Hospitalizations remain high

Hospitalizations among COVID-19 patients remains high in Knox and surrounding counties. Buchanan said the hospitalizations among Knox County residents is at 68. As of Oct. 13, the latest data available for the region from KCHD, there are 246 COVID-19 patients spread across 19 area hospitals.

Buchanan said she and the hospital systems are asking the community to intensify their efforts to stop the virus’s spread.

“It is imperative that we follow the five core actions and get a flu shot to keep our hospitals from being overburdened,” Buchanan said.

“What we really need is our community to come together and practice the five core actions regularly. We know that wearing a mask and social distancing can reduce disease in the community, and it works. And it’s safe and easy and everybody can do it.”

When asked about a vaccine for the coronavirus, Buchanan said it is unknown when it would be available to Knox County.

“We know what you know,” she said. “Maybe November, maybe December, maybe not until the first next year.”

Drive-thru flu clinic today

The Knox County Health Department is hosting a drive-thru clinic this afternoon for anyone interested in getting the flu vaccine. The department will be from 2-5 p.m. at the RecSports Complex on Sutherland Avenue.

The flu shot and mist will be available at no cost to ages 6 months and up. The high-dose vaccine will not be available at the drive-thru clinic.

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