Monroe County Government COVID-19 Updates & Resources

**Monroe County currently has multiple active cases of COVID-19.*

To keep up with the number of active cases, please visit the state website.

COVID-19 Public Best Practices

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Tennessee Department of Health encourage individuals to prepare for COVID-19 and have issued the below best practices and information if you must be out in public:

 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you’ve been in a public place, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

  • If soap and water is not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick and put distance between yourself and others if COVID-19 is spreading through your community.

  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or with your elbow.

  • Throw away used tissues then immediately wash or sanitize your hands.

  • If you are not sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.

  • Please stay home if you’re sick.

  • If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people when sharing a room or vehicle. If you are not able to wear a facemask, then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes; and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room.

 

The coronavirus does not target specific populations of racial or ethnic backgrounds.

COVID-19

Info to Know

Signs & Symptoms According to the CDC:

  • Fever

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath

 

Seek medical advice if you:

  • Develop symptoms

 AND

  • Have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent exposure/travel/etc. and your symptoms.

 

COVID-19 Testing Sites in Monroe County:

  • Monroe County Health Department: (423) 442-3993 (call ahead)

    • You can receive testing even if you are not experiencing symptoms.​

  • Sweetwater Hospital Association: (865) 213-8200 (call ahead)

  • Chota Community Health Services: (423) 442-2622 (call ahead)

  • Madisonville Primary Care Group: (423) 442-2121 (call ahead)

  • Access Medical Care Monroe County: (423) 442-8084 (call ahead)

Key Facts from the CDC:

  1. Diseases can make anyone sick regardless of their race or ethnicity.

  2. For most people, the immediate risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low.

  3. Someone who has completed quarantine or has been released from isolation does not pose a risk of infection to other people.

  4. There are simple things you can do to help keep yourself and others healthy.

    1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.

    2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

    3. Stay home when you are sick.

    4. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

  5. You can help stop COVID-19 by knowing the symptoms and seeking medical help if you believe you are infected. 

Monroe County Departments Directory During COVID-19

Monroe County Mayor’s Office: 423-442-3981

 

Animal Control: 423-442-1015

Animal Shelter: 423-442-1015

Archives: 423-420-0910

Chancery/Probate: 423-442-2644

Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center/Tourism: 423-253-8010

Circuit Co. Clerk: 423-442-2396

Dental Clinic: 423-442-8828

Economic Development: 423-442-3652

Election Commission: 423-442-2461

EMA: 423-519-7100

EMS: 423-436-0633

E-911: 423-442-4357

Finance: 423-442-9383

General Sessions: 423-442-1382

Health Department: 423-442-1235

Monroe County Airport: 423-420-0563

Monroe County Clerk: 423-442-2220

Planning: 423-253-4187

Property Assessor: 423-442-3637

Register of Deeds: 423-442-2440

Road Superintendent: 423-442-3637

Sheriff: 423-442-3911

Soil Conservation: 423-442-2202

Solid Waste Convenience Centers: 423-442-2497

Trustee: 423-442-2920

University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Office: 423-442-2433

Veterans Service Office: 423-442-5812

Business Resources

In Monroe County, we value our businesses. The current COVID-19 pandemic has created an economic need to support our businesses like never before. We have compiled a list of resources below:

 

Individual & Family Resources

We are here for you and want to provide as much information as possible to our citizens to ensure that everyone has the assistance they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have compiled a list of resources below that you or someone you know may need:

 

  • Emergency Funds:

  • Emergency Food Services:

    • The Good Shephard Center of Madisonville is offering food box distribution every Monday – Thursday from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

    • First Baptist Church of Madisonville is providing supplemental groceries through their Drive-Thru Food Pantry every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

    • Emergency School Meals consisting of 5 breakfasts and 5 lunches are available every Monday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the following sites: Madisonville Primary School, Sequoyah High School, and Tellico Plains Elementary School.

    • Food Pantry And Thrift Store Of Tellico Plains is offering food box distribution every Monday and Wednesday. To apply for assistance and confirm pick-up times, please contact them directly at  (423) 295-5518.

    • Sweetwater Area Ministries is offering food staples every Friday at 10 a.m. To apply for assistance, please contact them directly at (423) 337-0210. 

  • Unemployment:

  • Housing & Utilities:

    • Information regarding shelters, housing, and utility assistance can be found at http://tn211.mycommunitypt.com/index.php/housing-and-utilities.

    • Fort Loudoun Electric Board Extends Grace Period to 11 days after due date. You can connect with FLEC at 1-877-353-2674 to learn more about payment options and request assistance information.

  • Grocery Services for Seniors:

    • SCHAS is offering their SOS program to provide grocery services to qualifying seniors for free. To inquire, please call 1-866-781-7095.

  • COVID-19 Info Line:

    • The COVID-19 Information Line can be reached at 865-549-5343. This info line is designed to provide callers with trusted information related to COVID-19.

  • Educational:

  • Mental Health: 

    • Text “TN” to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line and to immediately be connected to a trained crisis counselor 24/7.  Click this link to learn about the Crisis Text Line.   

    • The TN Charitable Care Network lists all charitable clinics in the state of Tennessee and can be accessed here: https://www.tccnetwork.org 

    • The Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 800-273-8255.  If preferred, you can go to the website and participate in a chat feature.

    • Go HERE for free, anonymous, evidence-based screenings for anxiety, depression, trauma, etc.  Parents can take a screening to determine if their children are showing symptoms of depression or anxiety. The back-end of the screenings provides local resources and do-it-yourself exercises to help.

    • Mental Health America started Mental Health Month in May 1949.  Annually, they provide helpful resources to promote May as mental health month.  You can find these resources here: https://mhanational.org/mental-health-month.  This year, the site includes some COVID-19 bonus materials.  

COVID-19 Q&A

We are currently facing a time of uncertainty. Uncertainty tends to induce many different emotions and having questions answered assists all of us in being as prepared as possible as we try to combat the COVID-19 pandemic together. If anyone has any additional questions, please share them below and we will address them as soon as possible.

 

Q: Why did Monroe County Mayor Ingram issue a Public Health State of Emergency for Monroe County?

A: Issuing a state of emergency for Monroe County allows the County Mayor the authority to strictly monitor how County Offices serve the public. In addition, it will allow for the authorized use of federal and state financial resources when necessary.

 

Q: Does the County Mayor have the authority to force businesses and industries to close?

A: Mandated closures due to threats to public health can only occur if they come from the Tennessee Commissioner of Health/Governor of Tennessee (Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-1-201; Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-1-204) or from the designated county health regional officer (Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-2-609). Businesses and industries are encouraged to enact policies that take extra steps to assist vulnerable populations by considering measures such as shopping hours exclusive from the general public.

 

Q: Does the County Mayor have the authority to force a countywide “shelter in place”?

A: A mandated “shelter in place” due to threats to public health can only occur if they come from the Tennessee Commissioner of Health/Governor of Tennessee (Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-1-201; Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-1-204) or from the designated county health regional officer (Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-2-609). We are highly encouraging our citizens to stay at home as much as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak in our community.

 

Q: Are the County Offices still open?

A: Yes, the County Offices are still open, as mandated by law. However, person to person access is extremely limited as we utilize mail, online, and phone services to conduct business. Alternative work solutions, like working from home, have also been considered for qualifying positions. Visitations are not being allowed at the County Jail and our Courts are working under the guidance of the Tennessee Supreme court to not hold any in-person court proceedings. We are ultimately still open and providing essential services, but in a different way than normal in order to protect our employees and the public. All CDC guidelines are being followed.

 

Q: Why will the County not release the names, locations, and other information regarding individuals who have been confirmed with COVID-19?

A: This information is strictly confidential and held by the Tennessee Department of Health and the person’s healthcare provider. Due to this, private information is not made available to us.

 

Q: Will ambulance services and police services still be available?

A: Our ambulance services and police services are both considered essential services. As such, they will continue to serve Monroe County.

 

Q: Will Monroe County Schools close?

A: At this time, the schools remain operational by following their COVID-19 response plan.

 

Q: Are there any resources for individuals who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: Emergency Pandemic TANF is now available as emergency cash for those impacted by COVID-19. More information can be found at https://www.tn.gov/humanservices.html.

 

Q: Are there any resources for businesses who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: The Economic Injury Disaster Loans are administered and processed through the SBA. Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

 

Q: Will grocery stores and agricultural supply stores remain open?

A: Grocery stores and agricultural supply stores are considered an essential service during this time and will remain open. We urge the public to practice social distancing and follow other CDC guidelines when you must visit public areas.

 

Q: Can I still host events and gatherings?

A: Events and gathering are being discouraged.

 

Q: Are gyms and exercise facilities still open?

A: Yes, they are open.  

 

Q: Can restaurants be open during this time?

A: Yes, they can be open.

 

Q: Can I visit my loved one, who is in a nursing home, right now?

A: Visitation to nursing homes, retirement homes, and long-term care or assisted-living facilities is sometimes limited to visits involving essential care only.

Q: According to Monroe County, what companies are essential and what companies are non-essential?

A: The County actually does not decide what companies are essential and what companies are

non-essential. That is determined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on the federal level. The following companies are considered essential companies/industries during COVID-19, as determined by the federal government: Healthcare/public health/human services related businesses, organizations, industries, and workers; Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders; Food and agriculture related businesses, organizations, industries, and workers; Energy (electrical, petroleum, natural gas, propane gas) related businesses, organizations, industries, and workers; Waste and wastewater related businesses, organizations, industries, and workers; Transportation and logistics related businesses, organizations, industries, and workers; Public works related businesses, organizations, industries, and workers; Communications and information technology related businesses, organizations, industries, and workers; Local government and other essential functions (K12 administrators, security, elections personnel, trade officials, hotels, weather forecasters, etc.); Critical manufacturing: Workers necessary for the manufacturing of materials and products needed for medical supply chains, transportation (this includes water transportation), energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, the operation of dams, water and wastewater treatment, emergency services, and the defense industrial base; Hazardous materials workers; Financial services workers and support workers (banking employees, insurance services, armored cash carriers, security operations centers, etc.); Chemical workers; Defense industrial base workers, companies, and subcontractors. All companies not falling into one of the listed categories would be considered a non-essential company. Any of the essential companies that make the decision to shut down, have done so voluntarily.

Q: What are examples of essential activities?

A:  Examples of essential activities that will remain open include:

  • Food and beverage: grocery and beverage stores, farmers markets, food banks, catering, convenience stores selling food, agriculture, food processing, feed mills, and other businesses that directly support the food supply

  • Health care, mental and behavioral health, and biomedical research and businesses that directly support the healthcare industry including health information technology, staffing and supplies

  • Sanitation and waste removal businesses and services

  • Energy, water, and sewage businesses and services

  • Pharmacies and medical supply businesses, and other businesses that directly support the drug and medical supply pipeline

  • Vehicle fuel, support, service stations and businesses

  • Banks, savings and loans, insurance companies, accounting businesses, and other business that directly support the insurance and financial services sector

  • Legal and judicial services

  • Laundromats/laundry/cleaning services

  • Home and business repair, hardware supply

  • Warehousing and storage

  • Construction and facilities design businesses

  • Product logistics, transport, and distribution businesses

  • Parcel transportation and delivery businesses

  • Veterinary and pet supply business and services including agricultural services and the caring and feeding of all livestock and farm animals

  • Home and business cleaning and maintenance services

  • All businesses which rely upon deliveries may continue, including florists

  • Internet and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services)

  • Essential city, county, state and federal government functions including law enforcement, transportation, post offices, airports, and businesses that provide government programs and services

  • Daycare and childcare business will remain open but will prioritize children of parents working in essential services

Q: What are examples of essential businesses?

A:  Examples of essential businesses that will remain open include:

  • Hotel and commercial lodging

  • Construction of commercial and institutional buildings, and residential buildings and housing

  • Airport operations, food supply, concessions, and construction

  • Water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil extraction and refining

  • Roads, highways, public transportation and rail

  • Solid waste collection and removal

  • Flood control and watershed protection

  • Internet and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services)

  • Manufacturing and distribution companies deemed essential to the supply chains of the essential activities

Who is eligible for a recovery rebate? All U.S. residents with adjusted gross income under $75,000 ($112,500 for head of household and $150,000 married), who are not the dependent of another taxpayer and have a work-eligible Social Security Number, are eligible for the full $1,200 ($2,400 married) rebate. They are also eligible for an additional $500 per child. A typical family of four is eligible for a $3,400 recovery rebate.

 

What about taxpayers with adjusted gross income over $75,000 ($112,500 for head of household and $150,000 married)? Are they eligible to receive any rebate? The rebate amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 that a taxpayer’s income exceeds the phase-out threshold. The amount is completely phased-out for single filers with incomes exceeding $99,000, $146,500 for head of household filers with one child, and $198,000 for joint filers with no children. For a typical family of four, the amount is completely phased out for those with adjusted gross incomes exceeding $218,000.

 

What if my income was above the threshold in 2019, but I’ve lost my job due to the corona virus? Can I still get a rebate check? If your income in 2019 was in the phase-out range you would still receive a partial rebate based on your 2019 tax return. However, the rebate is actually an advance on a tax credit that you may claim on your 2020 tax return. If your income is lower in 2020 than in 2019, any additional credit you are eligible for will be refunded or reduce your tax liability when you file your 2020 tax return next year.

 

Is the rebate taxable or will I have to pay back any amount if the rebate based on my 2019 return is larger than what it would be if based on my 2020 tax year return? No, the rebate is treated like other refundable tax credits, such as the child tax credit and earned income tax credit, and not considered income. Moreover, if the credit amount you qualify based on 2020 income is less than what you qualify for based on your 2019 tax return, it does not have to be paid back.

 

Who qualifies as a child for purposes of the rebate? Any child who is a qualifying child for the purposes of the Child Tax Credit is also a qualifying child for the purposes of the recovery rebate. In general, a child is any dependent of a taxpayer under the age of 17.

 

Do dependents, other than children under 17, qualify a taxpayer for an additional $500 per dependent? No, the additional $500 per child is limited to children under 17. 

 

Are individuals with little to no income or those on means-tested federal benefits, such as SSI, eligible for a recovery rebate? Yes, there is no qualifying income requirement. Even individuals with $0 of income are eligible for a rebate so long as they are not the dependent of another taxpayer and have a work-eligible SSN. 

 

Are seniors whose only income is from Social Security or a veteran whose only income is a veterans’ disability payment eligible? Yes, as long as they are not the dependent of another taxpayer. The bill also provides IRS with additional tools to locate and provide rebates to low-income seniors who normally do not file a tax return by allowing them to base a rebate on Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement or Form RRB-1099, which is the equivalent of the Social Security statement for Railroad Employees. However, seniors are still encouraged to file their 2019 tax return to ensure they receive their recovery rebate as quickly as possible.

 

Are college students eligible for a recovery rebate? Only if they are not considered a dependent of their parents. Generally, a full-time college student under the age of 24 is considered a dependent if their parent(s) provide more than half of their support.

 

I am eligible for a rebate, what do I have to do to receive it? For the vast majority of Americans, no action on their part will be required to receive a rebate check since the IRS will use a taxpayer’s 2019 tax return if filed or their 2018 return if they haven’t filed their 2019 return. This includes many individuals with very low income who file a tax return despite not owing any tax in order to take advantage of the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

 

What should I do if I did not file a tax return for 2019 or 2018? The best way to ensure you receive a recovery rebate is to file a 2019 tax return if you have not already done so. This could be accomplished for free online from home using the IRS Free file program (https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free). The bill also instructs the IRS to engage in a public campaign to alert all individuals of their eligibility for the rebate and how to receive it if they have not filed either a 2019 or 2018 tax return.

 

If I have a past due debt to a federal or state agency, or owe back taxes, will my rebate be reduced? No, the bill turns off nearly all administrative offsets that ordinarily may reduce tax refunds for individuals who have past tax debts, or who are behind on other payments to federal or state governments, including student loan payments. The only administrative offset that will be enforced applies to those who have past due child support payments that the states have reported to the Treasury Department.

 

*The above information is prepared by Republican Finance Committee staff for informational purposes and should not be relied on for legal advice. Individuals should consult the IRS or a tax advisor to address questions related to their individual circumstances.