Hendersonville Mayor Jamie Clary and Sumner County Mayor Anthony Holt joined several other city and county mayors on Friday in declaring separate state of emergencies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed an emergency declaration on March 12. President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus a national emergency on March 13.
Eleven Sumner County residents have tested positive for the virus, according to the Tennessee Department of Health’s latest numbers released Friday. That number was at three on Thursday. A total of 228 people from 26 Tennessee counties have now tested positive for the virus.
“This decision is somewhat semantic, allowing the city to take advantage of state and federal relief later,” Clary said in a statement first posted on his personal Facebook page on Friday. “I will not immediately be asking for greater authority under the declaration. I will continue to make decisions that are within my regular duties as mayor. Our interim city administrator and I communicate almost constantly. We will continue to do that.”
Although he does not have the authority to force certain businesses to close, Clary asked that restaurants close their dining rooms and convert to carry-out, curbside and delivery service.
He also encouraged gyms, bowling alleys and kid play places to close through March 31.
“Working with medical staff, we will help the operators of those businesses understand the risks they present unlike other businesses,” he said.
Clary’s declaration is pursuant to state law that allows city and county mayors to declare a state of emergency for a period of seven days. At which time the declaration may be renewed for an additional seven days.
In his emergency declaration, Holt said that he is thankful to those who are taking the expert advice seriously by limiting unnecessary contact with others.
“Please isolate yourself as much as possible and only buy what is needed,” he said. “Sumner County will continue running essential government functions. If your business can be done over the phone or online, please use those options.”
Pursuant to the declaration, Holt directed that the proclamation be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
HPD closes headquarters to public
The emergency declarations follow several changes within the last few days to city offices and departments, including the city’s police and fire departments.
On Thursday the city’s police department asked that residents avoid entering HPD headquarters if at all possible. The department is urging residents to conduct business by telephone or email if possible.
“If they need us, we’ll be here,” said Police Chief Mickey Miller. “But if they need to file a police report or something like that, they can do that online.”
Police are only allowing two people in the lobby at one time, and if necessary, asking residents to wait in their cars, Miller added.
“It’s for their protection as well as ours,” he said. “We’re taking every step we can to limit exposure.”
Miller said exceptions would be made for emergency situations.
Those who call the county’s Emergency Communications Center, which includes 911 calls made within Sumner County, will be asked a series of questions in an effort to screen for COVID-19.
•Are you or anyone in the house running a fever?
•Do you have a cough?
•Are you short of breath?
•Have you traveled by plane, or been in contact with someone that has been on a plane in the last 14 days?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, family members won’t be permitted to ride in an ambulance.
An ECC dispatcher may ask if it is possible to meet Emergency Medical Services crew outside to reduce exposure.
Also on Thursday, the city asked that anyone who shows signs of illness refrain from entering any city buildings. Additionally, anyone who comes to City Hall is asked to enter the front door and have their temperature taken as a precautionary measure. Anyone who has information to leave for a city office is asked to place the information in an envelope provided at City Hall and leave it in a drop box.
Hendersonville City Hall will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until further notice.
The following is a list of direct phone numbers for the police department:
In case of emergency - 911
Non-emergency police dispatch - 615-451-3838
Administration - 615-265-5304
Criminal Investigations - 615-264-5303
Patrol - 615-264-5305
Records - 615-264-5330
Training/Community Services - 615-590-5677
Animal Control - 615-264-5355
For more information about COVID-19, go to the following websites:
TN Dept of Health - https://www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.html