Sevier Co. leaders grappling with coronavirus

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- On Friday, March 13, health officials announced that Tennessee had at least 26 cases of COVID-19, one of those in Knox County and one of them in Jefferson County.

Source: WVLT

Officials and local business leaders in Sevier County tell WVLT News that they are trying to operate as normal, all while understanding the severity of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pigeon Forge City Manager Earlene Teaster said businesses are open and welcoming guests. Teaster said the city did have two events scheduled for the LeConte Center which have since canceled.

“I would just encourage them like I said to wash their hands. Cover the mouth when they sneeze, do all the basic things we really should be doing anyway. They’re here and we certainly want them to have a good time while they are here,” Teaster said of guests.

Teaster added that the city has a good supply of sanitizing materials for buildings and hands.

As of Friday, there were no cases of coronavirus in Sevier County.

Businesses that are open have changed their procedures. At Ole Smoky Moonshine, they sanitize the bar after every sampling has completed.

CEO Robert Hall said they've decided to stay open to give visitors a normal experience.

“We’re well aware of the citation evolving around us. Some people may be concerned, but we want to be open if they would like to come, if they would like to visit. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are a really wonderful friendly place to visit,” said Hall. "We encourage people to visit, but they’ve got to feel comfortable. And we think they’ll feel comfortable visiting Ole Smoky.”

Sevier County's spokesperson, Perrin Anderson, said the county has increased cleaning of county buildings.

Guidance released by the CDC advises practicing preventative measures to help stop an outbreak in your community by:

- Avoiding contact with people who are sick
- If you are sick, stay home
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue
- Clean frequently touched surfaces daily
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol

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