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Carter County begins the steps back to business as usual

John Thompson • Apr 28, 2020 at 10:53 PM

ELIZABETHTON — After being in effect since March 30, the local emergency declared about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) issued by Carter County Mayor Rusty Barnett will change to get in line with the changed plan offered by Rep. Gov. Bill Lee.

The local emergency was similar to a statewide emergency declared by Gov. Bill Lee and scheduled to expire on April 30, and by other county mayors across the state. The duplication led the issuance of an opinion by the state attorney general that the governor had “exclusive responsibility and authority to assume control over all aspects of the state’s response to an emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The opinion went on to say that because the governor’s executive orders on the emergency declarations had the force of law, they supersede and pre-empt any action taken by a political subdivision of the state, such as a county.

This week, the focus shifts from preventing the spread of COVID-19 to Gov. Lee’s Tennessee Pledge, the administration’s plan to get Tennessee businesses reopened in stages. It is described as a plan to help Tennesseans return to work in a safe environment, restore their livelihoods, and reboot the state’s economy.

The plan began Monday with the reopening of dining areas in restaurants. The plan allowed restaurants to open their dine-in service at 50 percent capacity. The second step comes today with non-essential retail stores allowed to reopen for business with a 50 percent capacity for in-store customers.

The governor said further reopening will soon follow for other businesses and churches.

One of the keys to a safe return to business at normal is the testing of people who feel ill. One of the ways that Carter County is assisting on this part of the return is by free drive-thru testing for COVID-19.

This week the free testing will be set up at Hampton High School, 766 1st Ave., Hampton, this Saturday, May 2, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. No appointment or preregistration is needed.

Anyone with health concerns is invited to come to the drive-thru and receive the free testing for COVID-19. Those who receive the testing may remain inside their cars throughout the process.

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