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Coronavirus: The latest local updates, cancellations, resources, + more

There are more chances to get tested for COVID-19. I Image via the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Major Local Announcements

○ As of Feb. 24, the Hamilton County Health Department added 4,360 new first dose Pfizer appointment opportunities to its schedule for Feb. 26 + March 2, 5, and 6. People in eligible phases who have not yet received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can make an appointment online.

Wondering when, exactly, you’ll be able to get that COVID-19 vaccine? Tennessee residents can find exactly which phase they’re in for COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, and when that phase is expected to begin, via this short quiz from

On March 1, a COVID-19 memorial called the Floral Heart Project is taking place across the country. Locally, Joli Jardin is building a standing floral heart display at Powell Market (1428 Williams St.) to honor the lives lost to COVID-19 in our community. 💐

○ Hamilton County renters may be eligible for Covid rent relief soon as the Tennessee Housing Development Agency works to implement the US Treasury’s Rent Relief Act of 2020. The act will support renters who have struggled to pay rent or utilities due to lost wages or income because of the pandemic. An application portal will open on March 1.

○  Hamilton County officials said that a more contagious variant of the COVID-19 virus is spreading in the Chattanooga region. This news comes as the county’s overall case numbers continue to decline. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Teachers, people 65 and older and first responders like dispatchers + communications personnel are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. (NewsChannel 9)

○ The launch of a new federal government program will give the state of Tennessee access to more COVID-19 vaccinations. The vaccinations will be provided for free under the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. The program is a state + federal partnership that plans to help underserved communities. Over 120 Walmart pharmacy locations will be participating in the program. To learn more about individual county plans, visit here. (WRCB)

Random COVID-19 testing for staff and students at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga began this week to detect infected individuals. In an attempt to find people who are unknowingly infected, the random testing is based on recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention + the American College Health Association. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)  

○ Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger extended the mask mandate through March 31. 

As minority communities across the country remain hesitant about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine due to a racist history of using Black and Brown communities as guinea pigs, local Black community leaders are working to combat COVID-19 vaccine distrust. One leader – Executive director of local health clinic Purpose Point Clinic Katherlyn Geter, who is also a County Commissioner – said that Purpose Point will be launching a vaccination education series in the new year. (NewsChannel 9)

○ It is estimated that Tennessee will receive 360,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine each month. Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey estimates that 70-80% of the population need to get the vaccine in order to flatten the curve, meaning it could take over a year for Tennesseans to achieve herd immunity. These are only estimates as many variables are at play. (NewsChannel 9)

The City of Chattanooga launched a campaign called Get Ready: It’s up to you. It’s up to us as a way to prepare the community for the COVID-19 vaccine. The campaign shares safety precautions, resources for the public, and includes a personal commitment to get the COVID-19 vaccine. You can also share your commitment via social media with the campaign’s social media graphics

Blood Assurance Chattanooga is asking that any individuals in the area who have recovered from COVID-19 or tested positive for antibodies donate convalescent plasma, which is now being used regularly for investigational treatment by hospitals. You can schedule an appointment to donate locally here

In accordance with the latest CDC guidance, the Hamilton County Health Department announced that it will allow for a reduced quarantine period for people who have been in contact with a COVID-19 infected person from 14 days to 10 or seven days. The CDC now allows for quarantine to end after day 10 without testing and if no symptoms occur, and for quarantine to end after day seven with a negative test taken on day five or after with no symptoms occurring.

The Hamilton County Health Department announced that county residents who test positive for COVID-19 are now responsible for contact tracing on their own. These changes, which require COVID-19 positive people to reach out to anyone who they have recently been in contact with including employers and close contacts, is due to an increased number of positive cases, an increase in testing, test result delays, and a strain on computer reporting systems. (NewsChannel 9)

We aren’t the first to say that this pandemic isn’t getting any easier. Covid fatigue is hitting hard, but this article from Dr. Paul Hendricks from the Hamilton County Health Department helps to put things in perspective — Dr. Hendricks writes about the multiple vaccines in development, specifically two that are being reported as 95% effective + appear to be “very safe.” (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

The Hamilton County Health Department released guidance to help protect workers + prevent COVID-19 transmission in the workplace, where a major source of transmission in our community has originated based on investigations. The guidance includes not eating lunch too closely together, avoiding holiday office parties, wearing masks around coworkers, staying home if sick, and social distancing. Read more about suppressing workplace transmission here. 😷

CEO of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society Rae Bond is encouraging Chattanoogans to continue wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing despite COVID-19 fatigue. Chief medical officer for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Dr. Andrea Willis added that the upcoming flu season can bring additional challenges as it collides with the pandemic, so these practices will be especially important. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Tennessee’s Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III says mask mandates are legally defensible. Slatery equates mask mandates to seat belt laws + helmet requirements for motorcyclists. Read more about Slatery’s views on mask mandates here. (WRCB)

Are you wondering what, exactly, is contact tracing? Check out this “Ask a Doctor” article from the Chattanooga Times Free Press about what contact tracing is and the steps that are involved within the contact tracing process. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Researchers at Brigham Young University released a report showing that cloth masks do, in fact, help combat the spread of coronavirus. After reviewing over 100 different scientific studies on the virus assembled by various independent groups worldwide, the report found that cloth masks undoubtedly reduce virus spread by blocking 90% of the wearer’s respiratory droplets. 😷 (NewsChannel 9)

Ways to Stay Updated

Hamilton County Schools has created a COVID-19 reporting dashboard on their website in order to be transparent with students and family members. The dashboard will include the number of active confirmed COVID-19 cases and exposures impacting people in the school district + the percentage of positive cases for employees by month. The dashboard will soon have similar data for students as well.

Check out this article from the Times Free Press to get a glimpse of what it’s like for Chattanooga nurses to treat COVID-19 patients. The article shares what a day looks like for these nurses, misconceptions about the virus, and how the hospitals have learned to care for COVID-19 patients. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

You can stay updated on Hamilton County’s COVID-19 positive, negative, and total number of tests via the county health department’s website. The site also includes the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in the county + demographic details about those who have been tested.

Unacast, a human mobility data company, recently created a Social Distancing Scoreboard that is updated daily to measure + understand the efficacy of social distancing initiatives in each county and state. The data is measured by each county’s percent change in average distance traveled, percent change in non-essential visitation, and decrease in human encounters. Find Hamilton County’s Social Distancing Scoreboard here.

UTC’s interdisciplinary geospatial technology lab has created a regional Covid-19 dashboard that identifies the number of confirmed cases, deaths, and hospital beds across the greater Chattanooga region. You can stay updated on all of this information via the dashboard found here.

How to Stay Safe + Do Your Part

The Hamilton County Health Department released guidance to help protect workers + prevent COVID-19 transmission in the workplace, where a major source of transmission in our community has originated based on investigations. The guidance includes not eating lunch too closely together, avoiding holiday office parties, wearing masks around coworkers, staying home if sick, and social distancing. Read more about suppressing workplace transmission here. 😷

If you are looking to get tested for COVID-19, you can click here to find a list of Hamilton County Health Department-affiliated free testing sites, most of which occur at the Alstom Plant at 1125 Riverfront Parkway. You can also click here to find other testing sites and events happening each week in Hamilton County.

Hamilton County schools’ athletic officials want to remind fans that they must wear masks at the games for the safety of others and in order for the schools to continue participating in athletics. In order to attend a game, fans must also have their temperature taken upon entering and stay six feet apart from others. (NewsChannel 9)

Back-to-school is more stressful than usual this year for many families. These 8 practices can help keep your child – and your family – safe and healthy

If you’re wondering what makes hand sanitizer effective + what you should be looking for when purchasing, check out this article. (Reminder: the Chattanooga Times Free Press has made all of its Coronavirus coverage free, you just have to make an account first). (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Check out this article for more information about the difference between quarantine and isolation, which one you may need to consider if you’ve been near someone with COVID-19, and how long you should spend isolating or quarantining depending on the situation. Keep in mind while reading that because this virus is new, guidelines on these topics could change. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

If somebody in your family recently tested positive for COVID-19, this article written by health officer for the Hamilton County Health Department Dr. Paul Hendricks provides information on how to safely care for them at home. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

○ If your face mask is fogging up your glasses, there’s a quick fix for that. You just need to wash them with soapy water, according to a report from Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. That’s some news you can use, right there. (WRCB

How to Help

Local restaurant Charlie’s BBQ is urging the Chattanooga community to support the Federal 2020 Restaurants Act, which would provide financial assistance to locally-owned restaurants during COVID-19 to help prevent small businesses from closing their doors. Charlie’s BBQ owners Wes Agee and Elizabeth St. Claire said that their expenses have increased 38% since the pandemic began. (NewsChannel9)

If you had COVID-19 and have fully recovered, you could help patients who are currently fighting the infection by donating your plasma. Bodies that have fought the infection now have COVID-19 antibodies in their plasma, which provides a way for immune systems to fight the virus. Learn more here

Double Cola Co. is raising money for the Chattanooga Area Food Bank, which anticipates an additional monthly cost of $100,000 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Locally based Double Cola will do a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $10,000 in funds raised for the local nonprofit. That gift is the equivalent of 80,000 meals. To help Double Cola reach its goal, visit the fundraising page here

○ Erlanger Health System has received an outpouring of offers to donate supplies, equipment + time – which is greatly appreciated – so they’ve created this form to those who wish to donate. Read more on Erlanger’s COVID-19 response. 

Due to COVID-19, McKamey Animal Center has been forced to cancel fundraisers that account for over 40% of their budget. If you’re looking to help during this time of need, McKamey asks that you consider donating to the center so that they can continue to provide services to families facing crises and animals in need of shelter and care.

Schedule Changes + Updates

College and professional sporting events (CBS Sports)

Hamilton County School District 

City of Chattanooga

Community Resources

With the COVID-19 vaccine now beginning distribution, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released new guidance (you can find it under section K) regarding questions employers may have about requiring that workers get the vaccine. The new guidance answers questions like “Is asking or requiring an employee to show proof of receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination a disability-related inquiry?” and more.

Local pulmonary specialist Dr. Mike Czarnecki recently launched a new clinic that focuses specifically on treating and researching COVID-19 cases with longer side effects or symptoms. The COVID-19 clinics take place every Friday at Dr. Czarnecki’s office. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

If your family or business is in need of face masks, you can call the COVID-19 hotline at (423) 209-8383 to schedule an appointment to pick up large quantities of masks. Individuals can also pick up masks from the bins located outside of the Health Department’s 3rd Street entrances.

○ The Hamilton County Health Department created a series of informational videos that can be shared with people who have tested positive for COVID-19, their families, and close contacts. You can access the videos on the health department’s Spanish Youtube channel + English Youtube channel.

For updated information on COVID-19 testing sites and events in Hamilton County that are affiliated with the Health Department, click here. The list will be updated daily as needed with free testing sites and pop-up testing events.

As members of the community continue to work + learn from home, EPB is working to ensure households have power + connectivity. See EPB’s COVID-19 updates and resources

Local healthcare analytics company Base Camp Health has launched a digital application that allows businesses and organizations to manage and monitor the return of employees, students, and volunteers as the community begins to reopen. The app, called Ascend, streamlines individual assessments, communication workflows, contact tracing + population reporting to allow organizations to make decisions on safe operations each day. 

○ The Innovation District of Chattanooga has created two tools to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic — an interactive database of resources and a daily newsletter — both designed to help Chattanooga businesses navigate the information and assistance available to them. The database, found at, guides each user through the process of finding the most relevant information for their specific needs. It may also be beneficial for artists, freelancers, nonprofits and others. 

The Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program recently created a free, confidential guide to help attorneys who may be facing extra stress or pressure due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The guide includes resources for mental health, recovery + professional needs. (

Tennessee Action for Hospitality, a coalition that formed in response to the crisis the hospitality industry is facing, recently partnered with The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to create A Fund for Us. A Fund For Us will provide relief to those who have lost their jobs or seen a dramatic decrease in hours worked. Restaurants can register here to make their employees eligible.

Spanish COVID-19 resource page

The Health Department has created English and Spanish COVID-19 print resources that you can download and hang in your workplace or otherwise distribute. They are free to use by anyone. You can find them here

○ Yelp Chattanooga has created collections of restaurants offering to-go + delivery, where to buy gift cards online and grocery stores offering delivery.

○ SCORE is offering small business resources here.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press has opened access to their coronavirus content to everyone, not just subscribers.

The Chattanooga Area Food Bank can supply four meals with every dollar that is donated to them. You can contribute by donating to their Venmo @ChattanoogaArea-FoodBank or clicking here.

The Chattanooga Chamber has a pool of resources on their site, including local health updates, restaurants offering take-out + delivery, online shopping + gift cards, tools for working remotely, and a small business hotline.

Elliott Davis put together helpful resources pertaining to business continuity, tax updates, and other related issues.

Health Care Resources

Parkridge Health System is offering financial assistance resources for tri-state residents unemployed or furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone in southeast Tennessee, northwest Georgia, and northeast Alabama can call (833) 867-8771 for guidance from experts that will help callers find the best assistance option for their specific health needs.

CHI Memorial, Erlanger Health System, and Parkridge Health System revised visitation policies created at the beginning of the pandemic to help reduce the spread of the virus and keep our patients and staff safe. CHI Memorial and Parkridge Health System have relaxed their visitation policies to allow one visitor, with some exceptions. Officials with Erlanger continue to re-evaluate its current visitation policies and are not planning to make any changes at this time. Visitation policies for each health system can be found online — CHI Memorial, Erlanger Health System + Parkridge Health system.

○ Erlanger’s Health System’s response to coronavirus COVID-19

○ CHI Memorial’s response to coronavirus COVID-19

CDC Resources

World Health Organization Resources

Community Conversations

Chattanooga Tourism Co. (formerly Chattanooga Visitors Bureau) launched a new campaign to keep us all virtually connected #ConnectChatt. Check out the details + join the conversation here.

You can join the Chattanooga COVID-19 Community Assistance Facebook group here.

Pass It Down has partnered with the Chattanooga Public Library to gather your COVID-19  stories. These community stories will be used in an interactive exhibit, which you can explore here. Click here to share your story.