Knox County Board of Health extends alcohol curfew, allows social gathering limit to expire

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KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County’s Board of Health covered a lot of topics at its bi-monthly meeting on Wednesday night.

Board members voted to extend one regulation while letting another expire, and they also discussed county commission’s moves to change up how the health board operates.

Alcohol Curfew Extended

The Board of Health voted 9-1 to extend its sweeping 11 p.m. alcohol curfew.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs voted no.

Deputy Law Director David Sanders suggested the board should give a specific expiration date, instead of extending the regulation by two weeks or until its next meeting, because at the time of the vote, the board had yet to set its November meeting schedule in light of upcoming holidays.

The board adopted a continuation of the 11 p.m. alcohol curfew until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13.

Social Gathering Limit Expiring

The board also reviewed and discussed its Social Group Transmission Suppression Regulation.

Per the regulation, “all public or private gatherings of more than twenty-five (25) persons of age twelve (12) years or older indoors within the same 900 square feet at any given time within Knox County, other than gatherings consisting exclusively of persons residing in the same household, are prohibited.”

The board is allowing the regulation to expire. However, during discussion, members stressed the importance continuing to practice the 5 Core Actions.

“We still have a long way to go, and we can let something go that is not being enforced. But we could let one little thing go, but we need everybody to volunteer to step up. We’ve got volunteer spirit, we need it now as we go through the next two months,” board member Dr. Patrick O’Brien said.

UT Medical Center Data Update

Dr. James Shamiyeh gave a data update for the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

He wrapped up with the following key data points:

  • October is already the worst month of the pandemic in terms of case growth and hospital inpatient census; setting the stage for a severe November.
  • Most vulnerable age demographics (51+) continue to see concerning case growth in Knox County and encouraging case levels in youngest age demographic; but both may be artifacts of predominately symptomatic testing.
  • Tennessee hospitals are beginning to feel impacts of COVID-19 on operations that will likely affect local hospitals in November.

County Commission Discussion

Discussion Wednesday night also turned to Knox County commission.

At their Monday night meeting, commissioners voted to move forward an ordinance proposing a change in how the Board of Health meets, requesting the board hold public forum in the same way commission does.

“My suspicion would be that in the absence of specificity, your chair and you all still maintain a large amount of control over your meetings. I have a feeling that the inclination behind the county commission’s was that everyone have a chance to speak. I think that was their chief issue,” explained Deputy Law Director David Sanders.

Knox County’s Board of Health will meet next month, on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

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