KNOX COUNTY (WATE) – Knox County’s Board of Health dominated conversation at Monday night’s County Commission work session.
Two proposals about public health gained traction and moved forward.
Health Board Meetings
The Knox County Commission considered an ordinance to add certain requirements to the Knox County Board of Health’s meetings.
“This is basically just a transparency thing,” Commissioner Kyle Ward, who is sponsoring the agenda item, said.
The item proposes a change in how the health board meets. It asks the health board to hold public forum the same way county commission does.
According to the ordinance, that means “during public forum, County residents shall be allowed no less than three (3), nor more than five (5), minutes to address the county board of health about their concerns and opinions.”
The original proposal asked that health board members would also meet in person if county commission was as well, but that was scratched by commissioners Monday night.
“All the opinions weighed in. I think the best the ideas won in this circumstance and got the ball moving in the right direction so that the people can have a voice,” Ward said.
There were opposing viewpoints voiced as commission discussed the ordinance.
Chairman Larsen Jay said, “We’re sort of tinkering around with the nuts and bolts of our law in real time, and I just think it’s not the best way to move forward.”
In the end, the motion moved forward without recommendation.
Advisory Committee on Health and Economic Well-Being
Commissioner Ward is also sponsoring a resolution to establish the Knox County Advisory Committee on Health and Economic Well-Being.
According to the resolution, it would serve “as an advisory group to the Knox County Mayor and Knox County Commission on any topic regarding the physical, mental, or economic health of Knox County citizens.”
As proposed, the committee would consist of 11 members appointed by the mayor and confirmed by commission, and it would include two economists, one epidemiologist, one virologist, two Knox County business leaders, two Knox County medical professionals, two psychologists or social workers and one commissioner.
Though it’s not aimed at tackling COVID-19 specifically, Ward says there could come a time when it’s especially important.
“There’s been talk at the state house level to pass law to make it that the power would no longer fall at the health board, the power would then fall at the mayor, so the mayor would then have the decisions, if the state legislation decides to do that. So my comment was if the mayor’s going to have the power to make all the restrictions, I want him to have as many advisers as possible so he can make the best, most well-informed decision as possible,” Ward said.
Knox County Health Director Dr. Martha Buchanan said county leaders already have teams of experts. As pointed out during the meeting, there is a Community Health Council and the Health Department.
“Very few of you have reached out to me during the pandemic, or my staff. Some of you have, and some of you haven’t, but my staff is always available to provide their expertise,” Buchanan said.
Commissioners are set to vote on the resolution next week.
Discussion on the agenda items came after an hour-long public forum. It was the first of two rounds of public forum for the night.
“Please dissolve the board of health,” one speaker said.
Commissioner Justin Biggs said he needs to get everyone, including county commissioners, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, Buchanan, and the chair of the Community Health Council in one room to hash out what comes next for public health.
Biggs says he wants that meeting to happen on Thursday.
The next Knox County Commission meeting is set for Monday. The Board of Health is scheduled to meet a week from Wednesday.
- Coronavirus Timeline: Total COVID-19 cases near 175K, deaths now stand at 2,097 in the state
- CHART: Tennessee Department of Health’s count of coronavirus cases by day in state
- Greene County mayor extends mask mandate through September 30
- Video and pictures of packed house party near KU campus spark concern as virus cases rise
- Tennessee Coronavirus: Two weeks into September, state has seen a 12.48% increase in COVID-19 cases and a 19.56% increase in deaths
- Coronavirus in Tennessee: Knox County reports smallest 1-day increase in new cases so far in September
- Oxford and AstraZeneca resume coronavirus vaccine trial
- Tennessee Coronavirus: Total COVID-19 cases reach 171,824 with 933 new cases reported Sunday
- Coronavirus in Tennessee: Inactive cases rise by 204 as Knox County reports 121 new cases & no new deaths
- As Trump played down virus, health experts’ alarm grew
- Dakotas lead US in virus growth as both reject mask rules
- Tennessee Coronavirus: COVID-19 deaths hit 2,064 with 39 new ones reported Saturday
- Coronavirus in Tennessee: Inactive cases rise by 229 as Knox County reports 189 new cases & 3 new deaths
- As restaurants, bars re-open amid coronavirus, CDC study urges caution
- Ohio college students test positive for coronavirus, throw party