CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Mayor Joe Pitts, unanimously backed by the City Council, declared a state of emergency in the City of Clarksville on Wednesday to facilitate an effective local response to the worldwide coronavirus outbreak and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The executive order, approved by the City Council at a special called meeting, took effect upon passage of the resolution at 3:05 p.m. It will continue for seven days, and can be extended as necessary through April 2, when the Council meets again. After that, the order can be further extended by the mayor and council.
“Our nation and world face an unprecedented event that will define our generation,” Mayor Pitts said before the vote. “COVID-19, or the coronavirus, is a serious disease that threatens everyone, without discrimination.
“While we have the best scientists in the world working on prevention and a cure, we know certain irrefutable facts about this disease:
“Washing your hands helps. Keep a safe distance from others. Protect and be kind to one another. Don’t trade in misinformation, partial information or rumors.
“And if your faith is important to you, please pray for the continued safety of our community. I am convinced it is the ‘fervent prayers of a righteous people that availeth much.’ “
The order gives the City some latitude to make emergency purchases, protect employees by offering them flexible work schedules and generally allows the Mayor’s Office to react to changing circumstances that may arise from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order directs all City departments and offices to minimize person-to-person contact “to the maximum extent possible” by using drive-through window service, and electronic, telephonic and mail methods of communication.
The order closes all Clarksville Parks & Recreation activities, programs and facilities to April 11, including swimming pools, golf courses and recreation centers. Parks will remain open.
The order also authorizes City Department heads to direct certain employees to work from home.
The declaration also includes a City COVID-19 Response Plan that addresses internal engineering, administrative and work practice controls, and personal protective equipment necessary to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the City’s employees.
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the fast-spreading novel coronavirus. The World Health Organization declared the disease outbreak a pandemic on March 11. While no cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Clarksville or Montgomery County, at least 96 have been reported in Tennessee since the first case was identified in the state March 4. Gov. Bill Lee proclaimed a state emergency for Tennessee on March 12.
“This order will allow us to take legal steps to prepare the City, its employees and our citizens for a potentially long struggle against this viral outbreak,” Mayor Pitts said. “This will provide us some more flexibility to take proactive steps to protect the health and safety of our residents and employees.”
All members of the public and businesses are strongly encouraged to follow and comply with guidance and directives issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and state and local departments of health. The CDC has updated information and guidance available online here. The Tennessee Department of Health has additional information available here.