A few weeks after Signal Mountain declared a state of emergency, the town will be complying with Governor Bill Lee’s executive shelter at home order. Mayor Dan Landrum has been vocal about the need for social distance. He stressed the interconnected nature of Signal Mountain and Chattanooga, and how a COVID-19 case on the mountain would affect the larger city.
“We can’t just look at Chattanooga and say 'Oh, their hospitals are going to have a problem.' Those are our hospitals in Signal Mountain, and stopping community spread here helps our community spread even though we don’t have one in our town,” said Mayor Landrum.
“I think that same way of looking at my role and your role as individuals in helping someone who has got to go to the hospital, applies to our allegiance to the state, and then from our state to the nation.”
In order to slow the spread of the pandemic, Mayor Landrum asked citizens to comply with social distancing and other now popular directives. These include staying at least six feet apart from other people, washing hands constantly, and wearing masks.
“The virus is, undoubtedly, in our community, but more importantly our role in flattening the curve is to act like we, each one of us, has it,” said Mayor Landrum on his Facebook. “If I have to leave home for a grocery run, I will be wearing a home-made double-cotton mask which we will sterilize for its next use.”
Signal Point and Rainbow Lake have been closed for a decent amount of time, with both places usually seeing a large amount of human traffic, making social distancing difficult. But even though these parks are now shut down, Signal Mountain residents are still able to go outside and exercise. And contrary to some social media rumors, there is no curfew in place whatsoever.
“So, can you go outside for a walk, jog, bike ride, or hike,” said Mayor Landrum on his Facebook. “That summarizes the most frequent question since yesterday's gubernatorial executive order in Tennessee. The short answer is yes, provided you follow the Health Guidelines to the greatest extent practicable.”
While most seem to be complying with the closure of Signal Mountain’s parks, the closure of Signal’s beloved Recycle Center has been a source of frustration among some residents. While the town would love to keep the center open, there is no way to do so in a safe manner.
“Most of the pushback is about the recycle center, which is probably the biggest point of contention,” said Mayor Landrum. “The thing we have to consider is that someone has to work that place, and so that person is at the hub all of the time, and it can’t be the person from Orange Grove. It would be unconscionable to have an Orange Grove employee manning our recycle center during a pandemic.”
The mayor said he would not reveal the identities of anyone on Signal Mountain, as he is not told when someone tests COVID-19 positive. On his Facebook, Mayor Landrum spoke about how it would be “highly unusual if the Hamilton County Health Department reported private medical information to Town Councils and their Mayors………that is a County Health Department function, not a municipal function.”
Mayor Landrum did ask his constituents to be careful when consuming information about COVID-19. He cautioned against listening to unverifiable rumors and hearsay during such an uncertain time.
“As to identifying suspected cases, I hope we’ll be extremely careful about unvetted social media reports within our small town,” said Mayor Landrum. “This is a looming public health crisis and what people need is to know as much true information, and as little false information, as possible. The last thing we need is anecdote-fueled gossip that potentially pits neighbor against neighbor.”