COCKE COUNTY—On Friday March 27, Task Force C-19 met in the emergency operations center to discuss the needs of Cocke County’s citizens during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Established on March 18, Task Force C-19 was developed through a spirit of trust and cooperation among Cocke County and City of Newport Elected Officials, Agency Directors, Department Heads, and Subject Matter Experts representing a variety of fields.

County Mayor Crystal Ottinger said the goals for the task force are to develop a common operating picture and take decisive action on:

1) Mitigation and spread prevention

2) Preparedness & Treatment

3) Recovery

“Mayor Roland “Trey” Dykes and I were most impressed with the accomplishments and ideas of our subcommittees on:

1) Medical & Health

2) Response

3) Education

4) Social Service

5) Economic

These 5 subcommittees met all week with contributing members from all over Cocke County and presented techniques, tactics, and procedures designed to accomplish our three mission goals.”

Ottinger said that as new ideas and procedures are implemented by the task force, they will be released to the public in a variety of ways including The Newport Plain Talk.

“I was very encouraged by their vision and determination and this week you will begin to see more notifications of plans and programs through social media and local news releases.

“A few highlights from our meeting that we will be working on this week are:

1) Adding a mental health contributor to the Task Force and establishing a mechanism for citizens to receive the help they may need during this difficult and unprecedented time.

2) Refining policy and procedure for our First Responders when answering citizen aid calls.

3) Coordinating a process to identify students unable to receive meals by curb side pick-up and getting those meals to our children.

4) Creating a printed packet of critical information for residents who do not have access to the internet.

5) A single or series of workshops for our small businesses that will educate them on the complexities of the Federal stimulus package.

Of course, these are just a few of the MANY items we are working on and more will follow in the coming weeks.”

For now, please:

1) Travel outside of your homes only as absolutely necessary

2) Observe a 6-foot perimeter around yourself when out in public

3) Avoid business or social gatherings of 10 or more people

4) Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds

5) Resist the urge to tough your face

“By observing these basic control measures, and respecting each other’s personal space, we can keep the infected count in Cocke County to a minimum and work towards the recovery of our bodies, minds, spirit, and local economy!”

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