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COVID-19 – What You Need To Know & Resources

CDC is responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and which has now been detected in more than 100 locations internationally, including in the United States. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).

On social media? Stay up-to-date with these channels: Kingsport Alerts, Your Kingsport Chamber & Sullivan County Regional Health Department.

Please check this webpage for regular updates within the City of Kingsport.

3/31/2020

City Playgrounds Closing

Per the Executive Order from Governor Lee and at the decision of the City of Kingsport officials, playgrounds within the city will begin closing tomorrow, April 1. The playgrounds will be closed until further notice.

City park spaces, including Bays Mountain Park and the Greenbelt, will remain open and residents are encouraged to visit in small groups and continue practicing social distancing.

Kingsport would like to remind all residents to continue to follow the best practices, including washing hands correctly and as often as possible, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, leaving home only for necessary trips and of course practicing social distancing in public spaces.

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Summer Program Registration Postponed

The Kingsport Parks and Recreation Department is postponing registration for their summer program due to the current COVID-19 situation. Parents who are interested in enrolling their child or children should check the parks and recreation website for updates.

For more information, please visit www.kingsportparksandrecreation.org.

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3/30/2020

SAFER AT HOME ORDER ISSUED

View the order here.

Sullivan County Regional Health Department (SCRHD) has issued a Safer at Home Health Order for the residents of Sullivan County starting 12:01 a.m. March 31 until further notice. SCRHD and the City of Kingsport believe this order is necessary to protect the health of all residents.

Today, March 30, Mayor Shull Mayor endorsed the Safer at Home Health Order put in place by the SCRHD by signing Executive Order 20-01 Proclaiming a Local and Civil Emergency within the City of Kingsport. The Mayor’s signature will be ratified at the electronically conducted called Board of Mayor and Aldermen business meeting tomorrow, March 31, at 7:00 p.m.

This order is being issued now because it is urgent to slow the community spread of COVID-19 in Sullivan County. The goal of this order is to slow down the spread to ensure adequate health care resources for those who get sick with COVID-19, along with adequate care for emergency medical needs.

This order requires residents of Sullivan County to stay inside their homes unless they are engaged in ‘essential activities.’ If residents must leave their homes, it is vital to practice social distancing and stay at least six feet away from others.

Essential activities include:

  • Going to work if employed at an essential workplace
  • Going to the grocery and warehouse stores
  • Going to the pharmacy
  • Going to medical appointments – check with doctor and follow necessary precautions
  • Going to restaurants for takeout or drive-thru
  • Caring for a sick family member
  • Helping someone get needed supplies
  • Taking your pet to the veterinarian if necessary
  • Being in nature for fresh air or exercise – practicing social distancing is vital

Residents should not:

  • Visit family or friends unless necessary
  • Visit loved ones in the hospitals, nursing home or other residential care facility
  • Go to work unless providing essential services as defined in this order
  • Be in close proximity to others – practicing social distancing is vital

Businesses within Sullivan County and Kingsport city limits that have questions about essential workplaces should reach out to SCRHD at 423-279-2777. Businesses can also visit https://www.cisa.gov/identifying-critical-infrastructure-during-covid-19 for more information.

For more information, please visit www.sullivanhealth.org.

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The City of Kingsport Parks and Recreation Department is in the process of removing rims from basketball courts, per recommendations from the CDC and National Parks Association. Parks will remain open, but the city is strongly encouraging any visitors to practice social distancing and limit groups to 3 or less.

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3/27/2020

The City of Kingsport Parks and Recreation Department has placed signage at city parks stating park visitors need to practice social distancing when visiting, bringing their own water, bringing hand sanitizer, washing their hands when possible and keeping groups under 10 people.

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3/25/2020

Building Department Open for Business via Online or Phone

The City of Kingsport building department has closed its doors to the public in an effort to protect citizens and staff, but is still open for business. The city encourages the development community to keep in contact with Development Services via phone or email to check on the status of a project or with any questions or concerns.

Development Services will do its best to keep all projects moving forward at the best pace possible. It is important to note that there may be a delay in turn-around time for items such as subdivision plats which require original signatures.  This is due to some of our required signatories working from home during this time. These employees will schedule time to come into the office to sign those documents at their earliest convenience.  Also – please note that the County Register of Deeds is only recording documents by appointment at this time.

All applications can be found on the city website at the following links:

Planning/Development related applications: https://www.kingsporttn.gov/planning-commission/

Building Department related applications: https://www.kingsporttn.gov/city-services/building/building-permit-application/

Contact Information:

Building Division: (423) 229-9393

Planning & Zoning: (423) 229-9485

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3/24/2020

Kingsport Area Transit Service (KATS) will stop all scheduled bus routes at the end of the day on Tuesday, March 24. Starting Wednesday, March 25, KATS will begin offering on demand-fixed route bus service where riders call the KATS dispatch office to request a bus.

This service change is in response to emergency coronavirus measures being taken across the country. This method of bus operation encourages only essential travel and social distancing, allowing only a maximum of 9 riders per bus.

The “on-demand fixed route service” will operate as follows:

  1. Riders will need to decide which bus stop is most convenient place for them to be picked up.
  2. Riders can call 423-224-2613 at least one hour before needing to be picked up. Give name, bus stop location, pick-up time and destination bus top.
  3. If confirmed, the rider will be given an estimated time when a KATS bus will arrive at the stop.
  4. Riders can call 423-224-2613 when ready to be picked back up at the bus stop.

Bus fare will continue to be $1.00 each way for the general public, and $0.50 each way for disabled passengers, seniors, and veterans. KATS remains committed to the community during this time should anyone need transportation to essential services within the city.

KATS Dial-A-Ride ADA paratransit services will continue to operate unchanged during this time.

For more information, please visit  kingsporttransit.org.

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3/23/2020

Within the public facing departments, important services to the citizens of Kingsport will be altered at noon today, March 23, to take precautions with the current COVID-19 pandemic. These alterations are expected to be in place for at least the next 6-8 weeks, to protect both employees and residents.

Kingsport City Hall – Customer Service
The customer service center will close to the public at noon. Please review the changes below.

  • For customers who need new service, customer service will work with the customer to get the needed documentation through email and text. Call 423-343-9860.
  • Utility payments can be made in person at the Justice Center. Enter through the main entrance, and you will be directed to the correct window.
  • Customers have several other options available to pay their utility bills. Kingsport encourages the use of these during this time.
    • Pay online at the city website kingsporttn.gov.
    • Pay over the phone by calling 423-343-9860.
    • Drop box located outside city hall.
    • Mail to PO Box 880, Kingsport, TN 37662 or 225 W. Center Street, Kingsport, TN 37660

Improvement Building – Building, Development Services, Code Enforcement
For customers that need permits, inspections, planning and zoning or code enforcement, please follow the guidelines below. All the departments listed below can be found on the city website, kingsporttn.gov.

  • For new permits, please call 423-229-9393 or use the online permit application found here.
  • For planning and zoning, please call 423-229-9485.
  • For code enforcement, please call 423-224-2633.
  • For metro planning organization, please call 423-229-9332.
  • For public works administration, please call 423-224-2465.

Sullivan County Offices located in City Hall
The offices located in City Hall are the Sullivan County Clerk, Chancery Court and Law Court. For more information, please contact the offices directly.

  • Sullivan County Clerk: 423-224-1726
  • Chancery Court: 423-224-1790
  • Law Court: 423-224-1724

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3/20/2020

Essential services to the citizens of Kingsport are being altered to take precautions with the current COVID-19 pandemic. The departments that deal primarily with the public have taken steps, expected to be in place for the next 6-8 weeks, to protect both employees and residents.

Kingsport Police Department
In light of current events, citizens should rest assured that the Kingsport Police Department is still responding to emergencies and other citizen calls for service and will continue to do so. With that in mind, for the time being, citizens may notice some minor changes in police interactions. For example:

  • Whenever possible, routine reports, especially those non-criminal in nature, may be handled over the telephone.
  • Whenever possible, officers may avoid entering homes, and instead communicate with citizens outside, unless it is absolutely necessary to enter the residence.
  • Whenever possible, officers will try to observe the recommended 6-foot distance from citizens and avoid shaking hands.
  • The Kingsport Justice Center will remain open; however, citizens are respectfully requested to not come to the Justice Center unless absolutely necessary. If your need can be handled via telephone, please call.
  • If you absolutely need to come to the Justice Center, please consider remaining in your vehicle, calling upon arrival, and allowing an officer to come out to you.

We currently are and will continue to follow CDC recommended guidelines, particularly those involving hygiene, personal protective equipment (PPE), and social-distancing. Some internal precautions that have already been put into place include:

  • All non-essential training and travel has been suspended.
  • Disposable equipment is being utilized as much as possible.
  • Disinfecting stations have been created for proper cleaning of persons, vehicles, and other equipment.
  • Community relations programs such as citizen ride-alongs and Justice Center tours have been suspended.

To reiterate, none of these changes will affect the Kingsport Police Department’s ability to respond to emergencies or other citizen calls for service.

For questions regarding K.P.D., please reach out to Tom Patton at 423-229-9433.

Kingsport Fire Department
The K.F.D. is making every effort to limit the exposure to employees.

  • All business travel has been suspended; supervisors will question employees on travel plans from now until the end of June; recommend self-quarantine if employee shows any signs or symptoms
  • All public education programs have been suspended
  • Routine fire inspections, unless vital, have been suspended
  • Recruitment school has been suspended
  • Only in-house and online training permissible
  • All stations have secured main entrances – no guests beyond the foyer and bay doors to remain closed at all times
  • All employees must enter through main entrance each shift and complete the health questionnaire and have their temperature taken

For questions regarding K.F.D., please reach out to Barry Brickey at 423-224-2820.

Kingsport Public Works
The Kingsport Public Works Department is essential to providing basic services to the citizens of Kingsport on a daily basis. The city is committed to the health and safety of all citizens and customers so all essential services will continue to operate throughout this event.

Understanding that access to clean water is key to the prevention of the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, Kingsport will keep water on for all customers despite unpaid utility bills during this event.

Within Public Works Operations, the primary focus at the present time is to prevent the spread of the virus among our employees. The steps that have been taken include:

  • Suspended all large group meetings
  • Limited group gathering to the crew level size
  • Offset shift schedules in larger divisions by increments of 30 minutes
  • Assignment of work tasks remotely via the Cartegraph system
  • Increased disinfectant of surfaces at division locations
  • Increased signage encouraging preventative measures (social distancing, hand washing, coughing/sneezing etiquette)

The following actions have been taken to limit public interaction:

  • Suspension of the Historic Zoning Commission and Gateway Commission
  • Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals have moved to the Civic Auditorium to provide adequate social distancing standards
  • Earlier in the year, to secure the building and provide limited access to the building division, planning division and GIS was completed

Emergency preparation is underway to ensure critical staffing levels are maintained within the water, wastewater and sanitation divisions.

For questions regarding public works, please reach out to Ryan McReynolds at 423-229-9471.

Kingsport Customer Service
Kingsport Customer Service is essential to City operations and continues to remain open to the public at this time. However, several steps are being taken to protect employees and customers.

  • Kingsport is keeping water on during this event. Effective March 16, all late payments and all penalties are suspended to minimize the public traffic at city hall. While service will not be terminated during the extended period, customers will still be billed for water and wastewater services and past-due balances will continue to accrue if payment is not made.
  • When operations return to normal, customers will be asked to sign a payment agreement for any unpaid water/utility bills. An extension form 6 months to 12 months for the agreement timeframe has been put in place.
  • For customers needing new service, customer service will try to work with the customer to get the needed documentation through email and text.
  • As of March 18, a plexiglass barrier was installed to separate employees from customers to reduce spread of germs.
  • Enhanced cleaning routines have been established throughout the customer service department.
  • A contingency plan has been established to allow utility payments to be made at the police department in the event city hall has to be closed to the public.
  • Customers have several options available to pay their utility bills:
    • Mail in payments
    • Pay online at the city website KingsportTN.gov
    • Pay over the phone by calling (423) 343-9860
    • Drop box located outside city hall
    • Mail to PO Box 880, Kingsport, TN 37662 or 225 W Center Street, Kingsport, TN 37660

For questions regarding customer service, please reach out to Lisa Winkle at 423-229-9335.

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3/19/2020

Letter to the Citizens of Kingsport and Surrounding Region

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3/18/2020

1:00pm: Effective at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, these city facilities are closed until further notice.

  • Civic Auditorium: Closing at 5:00 p.m. with the exception of essential public meetings for city commissions.
  • The Mansion and all associated Allandale facilities. The park and grounds will remain open.
  • Sports facilities: Eastman Park at Horse Creek complex and Lynn View Community Center athletic fields. The walking track will remain open.

9:00am: At the recommendation of the CDC and the Sullivan County Regional Health Department, the City of Kingsport will close the Kingsport Public Library and all other community centers, effective 5 p.m. on Thursday until further notice. Additionally, all rentals of city facilities are suspended until at least April 3.

This decision comes from City Manager Chris McCartt. All programs, classes and events were suspended indefinitely on Monday. At this time, all other city offices remain open.

This information is subject to change as the city continues to monitor the evolving situation surrounding COVID-19. Kingsport looks to the SCRHD and the CDC for recommendations and additional information.

Facility List

  • Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium: All park buildings—Nature Center, herpetarium, etc.—will be closed, but the park itself will remain open to the public. The Nature Center bathrooms, accessible from outside the building, will remain open.
  • Kingsport Aquatic Center: Closed until further notice.
  • Kingsport Carousel: Closing Wednesday at noon (previously released).
  • Kingsport Farmers Market: The market will delay its opening until Saturday, May 2.
  • Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts: All programs and classes are suspended.
  • Kingsport Public Library: The library will close to the public. Due dates on materials currently in possession will be extended, and late fees will not apply. Holds and donations will not be available during the closure. Visit kingsportlibrary.org for access to digital resources at any time, including e-books, audiobooks and other virtual programs.
  • Kingsport Parks and Recreation: All of Kingsport’s parks and on-site bathrooms will remain open to the public, but all programming including athletics are suspended. Lynn View Community Center and the V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex will close. Ballfields, including Brickyard and Domtar Park, will also close.
  • Kingsport Senior Center: Closing Wednesday at noon (previously released)
  • Renaissance Center: Closing Wednesday at noon (previously released)

Rental Recommendations
If you have rented a city facility between now and April 3, please contact the facility. As of March 17, the CDC recommends that for the next 15 days, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events of 10 or more people; and for the next eight weeks, cancel events of 50 or more people. If anyone who has already booked a rental has questions or wishes to cancel, please reach out to the facility directly.

For up-to-date information on the city’s response to COVID-19, please visit kingsporttn.gov.

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3/17/2020

At the recommendation of the Sullivan County Regional Health Department and the most recent CDC guidelines, the City of Kingsport Senior Center and Renaissance Center will be closing at noon tomorrow (March 18) and will remain closed until further notice. The Kingsport Carousel will not open during their regular scheduled operating hours at all tomorrow and will remain closed until further notice.

Kingsport Senior Center

Starting March 18, at 12:00 p.m., the Kingsport Senior Center and Renaissance Center facility, including all branch sites, will be closed until further notice.

For those who take part in the congregate meals, individuals can find instructions on how continue receiving meals while the facility is closed on the website or can call 423-392-8400.

The Kingsport Senior Center will continue to post updates as the city receives further recommendations from the Sullivan County Health Department and the CDC.

Thank you for your understanding as we do our part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Please see our website (www.kingsportseniorcenter.org) or social media channels for the most up-to-date information.

For more information, please visit www.kingsportseniorcenter.org.

Kingsport Carousel

Starting March 18, the Kingsport Carousel will not open for its regular schedule operating hours. It will remain closed until further notice. The carousel will continue to post updates on its social media channels as the city receives further recommendations.

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3/16/2020

As of today, March 16, all city-sponsored programs, classes and events have been suspended indefinitely. This decision comes from City Manager Chris McCartt at the recommendation of the CDC and the Sullivan County Regional Health Department.

As of this statement’s release, all city facilities will remain open under normal operating hours. Any programs open to the public are suspended until further notice. Staff will attempt to reschedule any paid programs and honor tickets that have already been sold. Any customer who wishes to cancel should reach out to the respective facility.

This information is subject to change as the city continues to monitor the evolving situation surrounding COVID-19. Kingsport looks to the SCRHD and the CDC for recommendations and additional information.

Facility List

  • Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium: The park will remain open, but all programs—planetarium shows, astronomy programs, nature program, etc.—are suspended.
  • Kingsport Aquatic Center: The facility will remain open, but all swim lessons, water aerobics classes, training courses and other programs are suspended.
  • Kingsport Carousel: The carousel will follow its current operating schedule.
  • Kingsport Farmers Market: The market will delay its opening until Saturday, May 2.
  • Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts: All programs and classes are suspended.
  • Kingsport Public Library: The library will remain open, but all programs, classes and club meetings are suspended.
  • Kingsport Parks and Recreation: All of Kingsport’s parks will remain open to the public, but all programming including athletics are suspended. Open gym hours at Lynn View Community Center and the V.O. Dobbins Center are also suspended.
  • Kingsport Senior Center: All programs and classes are suspended, but the lounge and other facility spaces will remain open. The Renaissance Center’s open gym hours are also suspended.

Rental Recommendations
At this time, the city is not canceling any rentals within the above facilities, but urges citizens to follow CDC guidelines. As of March 15, the CDC recommends that for the next eight weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events of more than 50 people, according to cdc.gov. If anyone who has already booked a rental has questions or wishes to cancel, please reach out to the facility directly.

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3/13/2020

As of March 13, all city facilities are operating as normal and all programs will run as scheduled unless otherwise posted.

The City of Kingsport looks to the Sullivan County Regional Health Department and the CDC for recommendations and the most up-to-date information on the evolving COVID-19 situation. As of today, the SCRHD does not recommend we alter facility or program schedules at this time. This is subject to change as the SCRHD monitors our local situation.

Please visit here to learn the most current updates from the CDC.

Social Media Channels

Kingsport Alerts
Sullivan County Regional Health Department

Local Resources
What You Need to Know About Handwashing
Kingsport City Schools – School Closure Feeding Program all weekdays when school would have been in session
Hawkins County Drive-Through Meal Service March 17-20
Sullivan County will be providing a meal program as well and currently has a survey here asking about locations
Second Harvest Food Bank
List of local churches, etc. that have food pantries
Pay your city bills online here

Resources
United Way of Greater Kingsport
Sullivan County Regional Health Department
Center for Disease Control
Tennessee Health Department
Center for Disease Control – Facebook

MTAS – Resources for Local Governments in TN