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Knox County Health Department Issues "Safer at Home" Order

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Brandon Hollingsworth, WUOT News
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Building on an order that closed bars and limited restaurant service last week, Knox County Health Department Director Martha Buchanan on Monday issued a “Safer at Home” order intended to blunt the spread of COVID-19 in Tennessee’s third-most-populous county.

Buchanan’s order shutters all but “essential” businesses and services. It does not prevent people from leaving home for necessary things, such as groceries, gas, prescription pick-ups and medical treatment. It does recommend residents stay home and avoid gatherings of more than ten people. Restaurant take-out, drive-through and delivery services are still available.

"We understand the significant and, in many cases, devastating impact this will have on our families and local businesses, but we are hopeful this action will help save lives,” Buchanan told reporters.

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon supported the order, calling it a “necessary, pro-active step to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

Knox Ccounty Mayor Glenn Jacobs encouraged residents to obey the order, because "[T]hey’re the ones who control what happens next as far as the spread of this illness, and it’s something we really need to take seriously.”

The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday and lasts for two weeks.

Buchanan also confirmed Monday the presence of community spread in Knox County. That means COVID-19 is being detected in people who have not traveled out of the country recently or have had a direct connection to a known COVID-19 case. There were nine confirmed cases in Knox County as of Monday morning, Buchanan said. None have required hospitalization so far.