East Tennessee mayors urge public cooperation for phased reopening of economy

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and mayors of neighboring counties shared their hopes for a phased reopening of the area economy in a joint address Wednesday.

County leaders in Knox, Sevier, Anderson, Blount, Loudon, Roane and Union counties shared a similar message from a joint address in Knoxville Wednesday. They all acknowledged the virus isn’t going away.

“We believe this is a great first step in getting our economy back online and getting the people of East Tennessee back to work. We’re under no illusions about COVID-19. It’s here for the foreseeable future. We encourage everyone to adhere to the health guidelines.”

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon also participated in the address, echoing the need for a gradual, controlled economic rollout in the region.

“We are very lucky that we have been able to flatten the curve and our medical professionals have the PPE and capacity they need to withstand any issues with COVID-19,” Mayor Kincannon said. “We are studying how to proceed in a phased manner, in a carefully measured manner with cooperation and advice from the health department to do this safely.”

All leaders pointed at a smaller impact in our region, compared to other places because of our size and the community’s willingness to follow the social distancing guidelines.

“Yesterday, the first wave of results from a massive testing event in our county hit the state’s website. out of 405 new tests reported yesterday in our county, only five were positive. Meaning only 1.23 percent cases tested,” Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank said.

However, the leaders warn that progress made under the stay-at-home order could be undone if health guidelines aren’t followed.

“It will take the commitment of all of us as we try to regain some normalcy, let’s all do our individual responsibilities to prevent and keep the spread of COVID-19 slow,” Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell said. “We do not want to undo all the progress we have made under the safer-at-home orders or invite restrictions back on our citizens.”

They credit the people of East Tennessee to flattening the curve in the region. They believe it will also be us, washing our hands and keeping our distance, to make a gradual reopening a success.

Watch the full address here:

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