More COVID-19 mandates to come from Board of Health

By Mike Steely

Senior Writer

When the Knox County Board of Health gathers for an emergency meeting today at 5 p.m. it is expected to issue even tighter regulations to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. A special called meeting Friday evening saw much concern expressed by the members about the continual spike in positive cases, hospital capacity, gatherings, and deaths locally.

Dr. Maria Hurt, who asked for the special meeting, proposed limiting restaurants and bars to 25% capacity, bringing the alcohol serving down to 10 p.m., limiting social gatherings to eight people, and possibly closing fitness centers or limiting the crowds there.

“We’ve got to hunker down,” said Dr. Patrick O’Brien, adding, “We’ve got to get serious.”

Dr. Martha Buchanan said that the professional and medical thing to do would be to “lock things down,” but added that approach would not be accepted by the community. Currently almost 14% of people being tested for the virus are positive.

“These are the worse numbers we’ve seen,” she said.

Dr. James Shamiyeh told the other members that even with two vaccines coming it’s going to take some time before they are commonly available. “We’ve got to get through before we get to that.”

“Symbolic action is past us now,” Dr. Shamiyeh said.

Gotcher agreed, “We’ve got to follow science, there is no magic bullet.”

“The virus is the enemy, not the regulations,” said Ani Roma.

Dr. Buchanan and Deputy Law Director David Sanders agreed to work the language of the expanded mandates and present the resolution at today’s meeting.