Tennessee State Representative and Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton held a telephone town hall meeting last night with his constituents. Speaker Sexton was joined by Dr. Chris Jones to answer questions regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
Both started the meeting with opening statements.
“There are small business loans available for companies that have to close because of the governor’s Safer at Home order. The stimulus checks coming soon will help citizens as well,” said Sexton.
“We protect one another by staying at home as much as possible and practicing social distancing when we have to go out for essential needs,” said Dr. Jones.
A caller from Cumberland County asked Speaker Sexton about what is being done for high school students as far as their studies and the ACT test.
“The state commissioner of education is working with school systems in Tennessee on this issue. Homework is going out to parents of students in the lower grades (K-8),” said Speaker Sexton. He added he would get in touch with Cumberland County Director of Schools Janet Graham to get an update about online courses the upper grade students can take part in.
The next caller asked both how well equipped is Cumberland Medical Center in Crossville to handle added patients.
“The elective surgeries have stopped for now and that frees up some staff and rooms. I believe Cumberland Medical Center can handle the situation presently. Some rural hospitals do not have the backing of a major medical group. Cumberland Medical Center is part of Covenant which helps. The state is working with rural hospitals on taking assessments of their needs for a possible rush in patient intake,” said Speaker Sexton.
“The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is now looking at everyone wearing masks to further limit possible exposure to COVID-19. That will help the staff at Cumberland Medical Center in possibly being exposed. The reason why is people touch surfaces the coronavirus may still be active on then sooner or later, people touch their mouth or around the eye area. That leads to the virus infecting. A mask would also would stop the virus in a person infected from being blown out putting others at risk,” said Dr. Jones.
A farmer in Van Buren County asked Speaker Sexton about what is being done for self-employed individuals like farmers.
“The small business loans available could help. Also the state has $1.5 million in the budget that can go to areas the stimulus check does not cover. Tennessee will see over 2 billion dollars from the federal stimulus package just passed. A task force will be established to look at the best ways to spend that money to help Tennesseans,” said Speaker Sexton.
The next caller spoke about concerns for senior citizens and the isolation factor for them in this crisis. The caller asked what can we do for them?
“It is a delicate situation when it comes to our senior citizens, especially in assisted living areas. In the facility in Gallatin, we saw this week what can happen from COVID-19 (two died at this facility and 92 tested positive for the coronavirus and transferred to area hospitals after the coronavirus broke out in the building). We have to do all we can to protect them,” said Speaker Sexton.
“I want to encourage everyone who knows a senior citizen to reach out to them by phone or text and check on them. The isolation factor is huge on everyone now but especially on the senior citizens so be sure to call and check on them daily,” said Dr. Jones.
The next caller ask Dr. Jones can someone get COVID-19 again after recovering from it?
“We simply do not know right now if someone can be immune to it if they recover from COVID-19 the first time they have it,” said Dr. Jones. “It is being studied as we speak now.”
The telephone town hall meeting lasted about an hour and ended with closing statements from both.
“Governor Lee is taking this crisis day by day. The Safer at Home order is in play now and if needed more restrictions could be implemented. More testing is underway for citizens suspected of having COVID-19. The labs are turning faster result times for patients. I want to encourage everyone if you are sick, please stay home and do not go out. The COVID-19 does have the capability to return one day so a vaccine is being researched and hopefully developed for it. We will get through this together,” said Speaker Sexton.
“Check on one another, practice social distancing (meaning stay at least 6’ away from others) and avoid physical contact at this time,” said Dr. Jones.