“We started early last week looking at what we’re doing in our facilities,” said town administrator Bob Browning. “What we want is people to understand that we’re paying attention to to details and doing everything we can to make things as germ-free as possible.”
Browning said more sanitizer dispensers have been installed and sanitation efforts have been increased at various town facilities, including the Jonesborough Seniors Center, the McKinney Center and the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre.
As of Friday, there were no plans to significantly alter the town’s operations, and the town’s St. Paddy’s Day Festival on Saturday was still going to take place.
“We’re monitoring what’s going on,” Browning said, adding that unless there’s evidence community spread, significant changes shouldn’t be expected, though that could change. “Up until this point, we haven’t reached that, so we’re being as cautious and careful as possible, but we’re also trying to use common sense in what is the risk (to the public).
“I don’t know of any reason for us to change that until we see a change in what’s going on in the community,” Browning said.
Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest said he’s “tried to stay informed” on the situation, and that he feels the town’s staff has “taken the necessary steps to provide a safe and clean environment for out guests and residents.”
“We will be ready to adapt with other measures if it’s warranted,” he noted.
And though the town isn’t planning on making significant changes such as limiting gatherings or canceling events, there is concern about the impact the virus may have on local business — especially in a community that thrives on tourism.
“Almost all downtown businesses rely heavily on tourism, combined with already being slow due to the winter months, we are definitely slowing our miscellaneous expenses to prepare for the worst,” said Tennessee Hills Distillery owner and town alderman Stephen Callahan.
“Support local should mean more now than ever, and I think I speak on behalf of all downtown merchants.”
Vest also voiced concerns about COVID-19’s economic impact on the town.
“They depend on daily foot traffic, and if people succumb to fear and stay home our community and country will suffer,” Vest said.