The last two weeks have seen a marked increase both in the presence and impact of COVID-19 throughout Lincoln County. Active cases have surpassed the century mark at 103.
As previously reported, a number of Lincoln County institutions have been affected, responding with varying degrees of stringency as employees test positive for the virus. Among these have been the Fayetteville City Police Department, who have indefinitely closed their business office and municipal court, the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Public Library, which was closed for roughly a week for deep cleaning, and the Lincoln County Jail, which has taken immediate measures to inhibit the virus’s spread. The virus has also made its way into the private sector, with cases appearing at the Frito-Lay manufacturing plant, the Genesco distribution plant, and the local Sonic, which recently closed for 24 hours for the purpose of cleaning and consultation with the Tennessee Department of Health.
As of Monday, July 27, the total number of COVID-19 cumulative total of cases recorded in Lincoln County is 186, 48 new cases having been discovered in the week leading up to that date. It was during the week of that 48-case jump that Lincoln County also saw its first COVID-19-related death.
Amid these developments, no policy changes have been announced or suggested. Citizens retain discretion over whether or not to wear a mask, social distance, or otherwise comply with the TDOH safety guidelines, and the Elk Valley Times has received no comment on whether or not this will remain the status quo. Currently, the official stance of County Mayor Bill Newman is one of strong recommendation instead of mandated compliance. As previously reported, in a letter to the Chamber of Commerce Mayor Newman strongly urged local businesses to practice “the right thing,” by wearing face masks and following TDOH guidelines. This letter concludes with an advisory, however, that the spread of COVID-19 as result of ignoring guidelines would force the Mayor’s hand in mandating the wearing of masks. The Mayor has not issued further statements as to exactly when this tipping point would occur. Upon learning of the first death in COVID death in Lincoln County, Mayor Newman said that despite knowing that a death would likely occur at some point, he was saddened by the news, and is “urging and pleading with people” to wear masks and follow the guidelines.
With all of this said, it should be emphasized that the institutions referenced above have largely been quick to act and transparent in their response to the emergence of COVID-19 cases among their staff, suggesting that the stewardship of local business owners and county officials prevails amid a crisis such as the one we are currently grappling with.