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

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

Major Local Announcements

The Hamilton County Health Department announced that beginning May 4, it is expanding its hours at the Tennessee Riverpark vaccination site (4301 Amnicola Hwy.) from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on weekends. No appointment is necessary for anyone ages 16 and older.

Hamilton County’s mask mandate ended on Apr. 28 at 11:59 p.m. But the Tennessee Supreme Court Order that requires anyone entering a building where legal proceedings are conducted is still in effect. (Chattanoogan.com)

ICYMI, the Tennessee Department of Health announced that the state is resuming administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine without restrictions. (NewsChannel 9)

The Hamilton County Health Department is discontinuing its first and second dose designation for vaccination sites. Individuals can now schedule a first or second dose appointment in any available time slot.

On April 18, the Hamilton County Health Department + Southern Adventist University are partnering to offer a community COVID-19 vaccination event. 1,000 individuals who make an appointment will receive the Moderna vaccine through the event.

The Hamilton County Health Department will allow unfilled first dose vaccination appointments to serve as instant appointments beginning today, April 13. This means people who live, work, or attend school in Hamilton County can drive up to one of the vaccination sites from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. to receive a vaccine if slots are available.

The Hamilton County Health Department administered its 100,000th dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Since the first dose of the vaccine was dispensed, 30.05% of Hamilton County’s population has received at least one dose + 17.69% is fully vaccinated, according to the Tennessee Department of Health’s vaccine data dashboard.

 ○ Tennesseans are now eligible for up to $9,000 in reimbursements for COVID-19 funeral-related expenses. The funds will be available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to those who lost loved ones due to COVID-19 after Jan. 20, 2020. (NewsChannel 9)

○ Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger announced that he’s extending the mask mandate for one month only, so it will end, definitively, on April 28. (NewsChannel 9)

○ Hamilton County residents ages 16 and up for Pfizer and 18 and up for Moderna + Johnson and Johnson are now eligible to receive vaccines. This puts Hamilton County ahead of the State of Tennessee’s Vaccination Plan. New first and second dose appointments have also been added to the Hamilton County Health Department’s schedule.

○ Effective on April 5, 11 CHI Memorial primary care clinic locations are offering COVID-19 vaccination appointments for any current patient ages 18 and up. Patients can make appointments + find an updated list of clinics offering vaccinations on CHI Memorial’s website.

Some Publix pharmacies in Tennessee are now offering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, and as of March 23 people can begin making appointments for the vaccine online. Hamilton County is included in the list of counties with participating Publix locations, with available appointments for March 25, 26, and 29.

UTC recently announced that the University Health Services is preparing to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to campus community members as soon as they become available. The university will distribute vaccines to those who meet the county’s phase requirements, but will also have a “no waste” vaccine sign up list.

The Alstom COVID-19 testing site (1119 Riverfront Pkwy.) will become Hamilton County’s fourth vaccination site soon. The last day of testing there will be Sat., March 13. Drive-thru testing is still available at Cempa Community Care (4411 Oakwood Dr.), LifeSpring Community Health (2507 McCallie Ave.), and Clinica Medicos (1300 E 23rd St.). 💉 (NewsChannel 9)

○ The CDC announced that people who have been vaccinated can visit with small groups of others who have been vaccinated without masks or distancing. In some circumstances, like vaccinated grandparents going to see their grandchildren, both parties don’t need to be vaccinated to stay safe. 

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

○ 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.

○ 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)

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)

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. 😷

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 ChaBusiness.com, 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. (Chattanoogan.com)

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.