Mayor Andy Berke said Wednesday the city is putting new restrictions into effect due to the rise in coronavirus, including suspending access to City Hall.
He said, "We’ve been enduring a different kind of life under COVID-19 for five months now and unfortunately, the virus is continuing to rapidly spread throughout the Chattanooga area. I want to thank the Chattanooga residents and businesses for working hard to help slow the spread. We must continue to do more.
"This is why the City of Chattanooga is taking additional steps to reduce person-to-person contact in order to protect residents and employees. Beginning Monday, July 27, we will once again suspend public access to City Hall, City Annex, and the city services at the Development Resource Center (DRC).We will also continue to restrict any gatherings to ten people or fewer and decline any permits for any events on city-owned property at least through the end of August.
"Moving forward, my administration will evaluate a set of discrete metrics, including new positive COVID cases per 100,000 residents and the seven-day average of active cases, to make determinations about if, when, and how public access may resume. The Hamilton County Health Department is currently reporting more than 30 new positive cases per 100,000 residents and a steady upward trend in new cases.
"At this time, we do not plan to close the outdoor city-owned facilities that are open like ball fields, parks, trails, and the skate park. However, playgrounds, basketball courts, and the Carousel and Splash Pad at Coolidge Park will remain closed.
"For a full list of closures and how to access city services online visit cha.city/cityclosures or residents can call 311 for help at (423) 643-6311.
"Keeping these facilities open and reopening others is completely up to all of us. Right now, we’re under a countywide mask mandate because our local numbers are showing a dangerous trend, but luckily we’re seeing lots of people wear their masks out in public. Medical experts have said we can get this virus under control in just a few months if people continue to mask up.
"As the virus continues to spread and we get closer to flu season, it’s important to take stock of how you’re feeling.
"The COVID-19 Joint Task Force Data & Analysis Committee recently launched the COVID-19 Symptom Survey. This is a tool for Hamilton County area residents to review symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19, especially if they or someone they are caring for, are feeling ill. The survey will also provide an additional level of anonymous information to local medical professionals, researchers, and decision-makers. This gives us another view of the way the virus is potentially spreading in our community.
"Understanding how this virus is moving throughout our community helps decision makers develop strategies and command resources to combat the virus and eventually stop its spread. You can check out the survey - available in English and Spanish - and learn more at cha.city/covidsurvey or cha.city/encuestadecovid.
"If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms it’s important to take advantage of the free testing across our community and then stay home until you have your results. Each week we update our Community Testing Calendar at cha.city/covidtesting.
"Our community has worked hard to expand free COVID-19 testing in Hamilton County to anyone who wants it. Community health care providers conducting COVID-19 testing now need the assistance of medical and non-medical community members to ensure these events are successful and continue to be available in our area. If you are interested in assisting your community get tested, please visit cha.city/covidtestingvolunteer to submit a volunteer interest form. Send us your information and a staff member will contact you.
"I hope you all have a great rest of your week. Remember to wash your hands, social distance, and wear a mask. Most importantly, be safe."