As businesses reopen, northeast Tennessee mayors urge citizens to take responsibility for their own health


On April 28, the mayors of Bristol, Elizabethton, Johnson City, Kingsport and all of Carter, Sullivan and Washington counties in Tennessee published a joint letter asking citizens to assist in a “responsible reopening of business in their communities. The text follows:

April 28, 2020
Citizens of Bristol, Elizabethton, Johnson City, Kingsport and all of Carter, Sullivan and Washington counties:
As our cities and counties move forward with reopening plans and procedures, local leaders remind citizens that we are not returning to “normal.” Our new normal will look different, with health precautions remaining a necessary part of everyday life. It is more important than ever to continue safe practices to avoid a spike in COVID-19 cases. These best practices – as outlined by the CDC and local health departments – have helped to keep the number of positive cases low in our region.
While facilities resume operations, it is imperative that everyone:
• Keep adequate social distance – maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and others when out in public.

• Limit gatherings – per Gov. Bill Lee, gatherings must be limited to 10 or less people.

• Wash hands – wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Wash your hands before eating or preparing food, after using the restroom, after coughing or sneezing, and after going anywhere in public.

• Avoid touching your face – avoid touching any part of your face, especially eyes, nose and mouth.

• Wear a cloth mask – masks not only lower the risk of you breathing in airborne viruses but greatly reduce you spreading a virus, even if you don’t feel ill. We now know that some of those positive for coronavirus are asymptomatic. Please use cloth masks and reserve PPE for medical and frontline personnel.

• Disinfect surfaces – take time to disinfect all spaces, from work to vehicle to home. 

• Stay home – if you’re feeling sick or fall into a higher risk category (older citizens, immuno-compromised, etc.), continue to stay home.  

• Avoid nonessential travel – at this time, it’s still best to avoid traveling outside the Tri-Cities area.
Area government leaders and health officials recognize the importance of reopening our area but doing so safely is crucial to its success. The path forward is a cautious one, as the safety and health of our communities remains the top priority.

Margaret Feierabend
Mayor, Bristol, Tenn.

Curt Alexander 
Mayor, Elizabethton

Jenny Brock
Mayor, Johnson City

Pat Shull
Mayor, Kingsport

Rusty Barnett  
Mayor, Carter Co. 

Richard Venable 
Mayor, Sullivan Co. 

Joe Grandy
Mayor, Washington Co.

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