The City of Dickson continues to monitor developments in the COVID-19 health emergency and is evaluating measures to protect its citizens and slow the spread of the virus, according to a recent statement from the city mayor.
The city’s administration is meeting daily and the Mayor’s COVID-19 Advisory Committee created by Dickson Mayor Don Weiss Jr. is meeting weekly to review information from healthcare professionals in order to continue adjusting the city’s response, according to the statement.
Weiss urged citizens not to panic, but “be proactive by following the very simple recommendations of frequent hand-washing, cough and sneeze hygiene and avoiding touching your face,” Weiss said.
“To protect yourself and others, avoid large gatherings and personal contact as advised by health professionals,” Weiss said. “Clean and disinfect surfaces frequently and do not leave your home if you are exhibiting any symptoms.”
As locals have wondered if bars, restaurants and gathering places in Dickson would close, the mayor said he doesn’t have the power to close those establishments for a healthcare issue.
“There is a misconception that as mayor I have certain powers to limit public gatherings or force businesses to close or make changes,” Weiss said. “According to state law, only county boards of health have the authority to take such steps in a healthcare emergency. In the cities where such actions have occurred, it has been done by the health directors and boards of health.
I cannot close bars, limit restaurant seating or prevent churches from holding worship services. I can do exactly what I have done so far and that is control city-owned or city-operated facilities.”
Weiss said the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Tennessee Department of Health continue to provide guidelines for individuals, businesses and local governments to help slow the spread of the virus.
Guidelines for slowing the spread of the virus can be found at cdc.gov and tn.gov/covid-19 or by calling 877-857-2945.
Based on the recommendation of the Mayor’s COVID-19 Advisory Committee, Weiss directed the Dickson Senior Center to be closed and suspended all city-sponsored activities at the Dickson Housing Authority Community Center through March 31.
The committee, including medical advisor Dr. Jeff Gordon, met again Thursday to review the latest data and is scheduled to meet again next week to determine whether additional measures should be considered. Weiss and City Administrator Rydell Wesson joined a conference call held Wednesday by Gov. Bill Lee and county and city mayors across the state to review what actions the state is taking.
State of emergency declaration
As mayor, Weiss is empowered to declare a state of emergency for any existing or impending healthcare emergency, as mayors in several cities have done. Such a declaration mostly creates opportunities for cities to receive grants for the reimbursement of expenses incurred in responding to the emergency. It does not give mayors any other major regulatory powers, other than invoking and expanding police and other emergency agency powers.
“While I have not declared a state of emergency, I want to assure the citizens of Dickson that we are ready to act should the need arise. We are working very hard to stay as up to date as possible and take every precaution within the city’s power to protect the citizens,” Weiss said. “The best advice is to avoid being in public as much as possible, but when you do go out keep your distance from each other. There is no reason to panic.”
Local health department COVID-19 testing
The Dickson County Health Department began conducting COVID-19 testing Thursday.
Anyone exhibiting symptoms is asked to call the department at 615-446-2839 to talk to a nurse. If the nurse determines the patient needs to be tested, the patient will be swabbed in his/her car in the health department parking lot.
In the event of inclement weather, patients will be asked to remain in their cars until called by a nurse and then be met at the front door to be given a mask and gloves before entering the department.
Other testing locations will be identified in the days ahead.
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