DEAR EDITOR:

Covid-19 is a serious threat as seen from the outbreaks in Italy and China. Our Federal and State governments have taken unprecedented action to effectively shut down major sectors of the economy and instructed us to remain at home for at least two weeks. While this strategy is needed and will slow the spread, it is not sustainable and will result in a massive recession if we do not rapidly implement a strategy to “co-exist” with the virus until there is a vaccine.

There are several Asian democracies that had outbreaks of the virus before the U.S. and have demonstrated successful strategies to combat it. While Cherokee County has a dependency on the State and Federal government for a large fraction of the support required to combat Covid-19, we can take more action now to prepare:

Cherokee County should organize a centralized Covid-19 task force that coordinates all County response activities and supplements key departments until the pandemic has dissipated.

This task force should be led by a strong County leader and assess opportunities where employees in flexible or idle functions (i.e. closed libraries) can temporarily support. The task force should be aligned by the standard epidemiological tool kit used by the Asian democracies to successfully combat the virus:

Vigilance and rapid response – coordinate with First Responder leadership team to ensure continuity of operations and backfill administrative tasks, enabling maximum capacity on the ground Testing – support County Health Department selection/setup of testing sites Quarantining the sick – create program for daily remote check-ins with home-quarantined Covid-19 patients and/or caretaker to ensure those infected are following quarantine guidelines Tracing contacts/self-isolating those exposed – coordinate with Covid-19 infected patients remotely and collect info on potentially exposed contacts to ensure those exposed are aware and should self-isolate (major gap in U.S. due to lack of resources) Ensuring social distancing and providing reliable information – ensure clear and frequent updates via all County channels; aggregate vetted charity/community-organized support opportunities

Each area will have an assigned lead; most redeployed support would focus on remote work associated with No. 3 and No. 4.

Our First Responders and Health Department employees are working tirelessly on the front lines to protect us. The situation will improve as testing becomes more available and quicker; however, this alone is not enough. County leadership must reassess priorities and drive the proven strategy to manage the virus.

We all must think and act differently if we hope to solve this as a community. We must do everything possible to get people back to living their lives and save our small business.

-Johnny Knocke

Candidate for Cherokee County Commission District 2

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