Without a doubt, our nation, our state and our communities are being tested in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Our faith may also be tested in the coming weeks. I urge you to continue to turn to God for direction and comfort.
While we practice social distancing, I ask that you continue to check in on each other. Every hand we don’t shake or hug we avoid should become a phone call we place. Let’s be extra mindful of the needs of our senior citizens. When and where possible, help them access extra household supplies, nonperishables or even meals. If you can assist our less mobile seniors with chores or errands, it will surely be appreciated.
Please let an essential worker know you appreciate them. Chances are you personally know a few. These folks are an army of heroes who are risking it all for the rest of us. Our health care workers, first responders, and law enforcement are on the front lines, putting themselves directly in harm’s way to save lives.
Don’t overlook our truck drivers who are working long hours to keep America’s supply chain intact making sure doctors and nurses receive vital supplies and that grocery stores receive the food and supplies the rest of us need.
Thank the people who work in your favorite grocery store and delivery drivers. These workers have suddenly found themselves on the front lines of this health crisis, having to deal with angry shoppers, empty shelves and panic-buying.
Governor announces Safer at Home Executive Orders
This week in Nashville, Gov. Bill Lee announced Safer at Home executive orders to keep people home and increase social distancing to reduce an anticipated surge of Covid-19 cases in Tennessee.
Executive Order 22, introduced by the governor and both the House and Senate speakers on Monday, enacted safer at home guidelines in all 95 Tennessee counties. It is effective through April 14, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Central Daylight Time.
Tennesseans with non-essential roles including barber shops, salons, and recreational and entertainment facilities were strongly urged to stay home.
Executive Order 23 requires Tennesseans to stay home unless they are carrying out essential activities until April 14. It comes after data from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) revealed an increase in citizen movement across the state earlier in the week. Additionally, cell phone data provided by Unacast was also studied, and it showed an increase in cell phone mobility trending back towards pre-Covid-19 levels.
The Covid-19 Unified Command also this week announced a partnership with LaunchTN to ramp up production of lifesaving personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies by businesses willing to switch their models and produce resources to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Approximately 25 companies and universities have made significant donations of PPE and supplies to assist health care workers as they provide lifesaving services to patients. 3D printing efforts at higher education institutions have also resulted in the production of 10,000 face shields.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Thursday also approved Tennessee’s Covid-19 disaster declaration. This will expedite the state’s ability to convert existing facilities into critical care centers while also expanding Tennessee’s hospital bed capacity by 7,000 beds to better prepare our health care system for an expected influx of Covid-19 patients.
Department of Education announces early education resources for families
The Tennessee Department of Education and the governor’s Early Literacy Foundation this week announced a partnership with ReadyRosie to provide innovative educational resources to families as schools remain closed.
Through ReadyRosie, families and children will be able to access a series of short videos and other online resources to help support children from birth through third grade so they remain engaged and are encouraged to learn while they are home.
All videos for families with school-aged children are approximately two minutes in length; they feature instructional activities parents can utilize and share with their kids. Videos are available in English and Spanish, and topics include literacy, early math, health and well-being.
This platform is now available in Tennessee through Sept. 1. To sign up, please click here.
Beginning April 6, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) will deliver two hours of instructional television programming while students remain home through at least April 24.
Help for small businesses
The Small Business Administration officially launched its $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) on April 3 in efforts to support Tennessee businesses currently struggling because of the sudden economic downturn caused by Covid-19.
As part of the $2 trillion federal stimulus package, these forgivable loans are designed to provide incentives to small businesses with 500 or fewer employees to keep their employees on the payroll. Eligible entities include sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals among others. If a business keeps all of its employees on the payroll for eight weeks and funds are used specifically to meet payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utility expenses, all loan balances will be forgiven and each loan becomes a grant.
Small businesses in the hospitality or food industry with more than one location may also be eligible if their individual locations employ less than 500 workers.
The PPP is now available to all Tennessee small businesses through June 30, 2020. More information is available here.
Lastly, please continue to practice healthy habits. The safety and the health of our loved ones is what matters most right now. Be steadfast and trust in the Lord.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord,” – 1 Corinthians 15:58:
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