Public meeting to discuss Knox County Board of Health’s direction canceled

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KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — An upcoming public meeting on COVID-19 is now canceled. The cancellation comes after a strongly-worded post critical of the Knox County Health Department appeared on the Facebook page of the restaurant where the meeting was set to take place.

County Commissioner Justin Biggs called the meeting. He was planning on talking about the direction of the Board of Health with Director Dr. Martha Buchanan.

But after what happened online, he said he had to cancel it.

A post on Casen’s Steakhouse Facebook page was critical of the county’s mask mandate. The post has since been deleted, but when it came out Tuesday afternoon, Biggs said he felt like the meeting would go the opposite direction of how he intended. Out of respect for the elected officials and Dr. Buchanan, he said he canceled it.

“I’ve kept the same message that I want no negativity, no shouting… I want us to talk like sensible adults. I want us to come together and try to see if we can even find a common ground. That may not be possible. But I want everyone to walk away with a little bit more respect for one another and realizing that we all have the common goal, and that’s the people of Knox County to be taken care of,” Biggs said.

We reached out to Casen’s Steakhouse for comment. One of the owners, who identified himself as Justin Wathen, told us he had no idea county commissioners and health officials were coming to the restaurant.

He wrote in part, “My message is everyone needs to stand up for their rights and stop abiding by the lies they keep shoving down our throats… We don’t force our staff to wear masks, if they chose to wear them that’s fine. But people keep saying it’s because I don’t care which is not true.”

Commissioner Biggs and Dr. Buchanan are now planning on meeting privately.

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