Knox County Mayor Jacobs pleased with governor lifting COVID-19 business restrictions, wants county Board of Health to take advisory role

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Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs discusses COVID-19 on Thursday, April 9, 2020. (WATE)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs says he only wants to see a balance of power restored as it pertains to the Knox County Board of Health and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement Tuesday, Jacobs said he hopes the board would take on more of an advisory role.

The mayor’s hope was not for the dissolution of the board, rather more accountability and some oversight so that his office and the commission can play a larger role in decision making

He never suggested abolishing the Board of Health, only that the balance of power needs to be re-evaluated and more clearly defined, and that he’d like to see it move from a policy making role to an advisory one.

Office of Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs

The Knox County Commission voted Monday night to pass a resolution that expressed what it wants the Knox County Board of Health to do. The resolution originally tried to limit the board’s power but the language had to be tweaked.

The commission also voted in a citizen representative to the Board of Health, Ani Roma.

Commission members said they wanted the county board to follow Gov. Bill Lee’s decisions and ease up on additional restrictions.

Lee granted the Knox County Board of Health and the boards of health for Davidson, Shelby and Hamilton counties powers at the beginning of the pandemic to make local guidelines.

On Tuesday, Lee signed Executive Orders No. 63 and 64. The first executive order lifts the COVID-19 restrictions placed on businesses and allows county regulating bodies to choose whether to have a local mask mandate. The second allows for government meetings to be held virtually.

“I’m happy Governor Lee has lifted business restrictions in 89 counties,” Jacobs said Tuesday. “That said, many of the small businesses here in Knox County are still not operating at full capacity or are unable to provide their full range of services. So, Knox County will certainly be at a disadvantage as our own residents leave the community to spend money in the surrounding areas.

“It will be important that our citizens recognize that COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, and we should continue to take personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our community by following public health guidelines and recommendations when we visit other counties.”

The Knox County Board of Health will meet virtually from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday. The board’s agenda includes a discussion of the two resolutions passed by the Knox County Commission.

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