Chamber getting the word out about COVID-19

Robert Houk • Mar 13, 2020 at 8:00 AM

Bob Cantler, the president/CEO of the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday his organization is attempting to get out “the best information possible” on the novel coronavirus to its 700 members.

“We are attempting to communicate responsibly with our members,” he said, noting the Chamber has sent out answers from Ballad Health to frequently asked questions area businesses might have about COVID-19.

Cantler said the Chamber is advising its members to “stay calm and be patient.”

Gov. Bill Lee issued an executive order earlier Thursday declaring a state of emergency in Tennessee to address the treatment and containment of COVID-19.

The Chamber president said his organization is trying to stay at the forefront of the discussions about the virus, and “adapt as much as we can.” The Chamber is also looking to Ballad Health and other large regional employers, like Eastman Chemical Co., for advice on related issues such as travel restrictions and workplace quarantines.

Cantler said the task of keeping its members informed has been made more challenging as COVID-19 continues to spread worldwide.

“Things are so fluid now,” he said. “There are so many events and activities being canceled.”

Along with keeping its members informed on COVID-19, Cantler said the Chamber will be keeping an eye on strategies that will help local businesses to deal with the economic consequences of containing the virus. He said canceling sports and entertainment events for COVID-19 will result in a substantial decline in travel, much like the nation saw in the wake of the 9-11 attacks.

“We are waiting for the other shoe to fall from an economic standpoint,” Cantler said.