Mayor Paige Brown has declared a state of emergency in Gallatin as a result of the ongoing coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak in Tennessee.
Brown informed members of the Gallatin City Council of her decision Tuesday. The measure, she said, was precautionary and will allow for a timely reaction in the event of an outbreak in the community. It also opens the door for the city to possibly receive state and federal aid in the event of an emergency.
A resolution acknowledging the existence of an emergency and consenting to emergency powers of the mayor was also proposed by City Attorney Susan High-McAuley and unanimously approved by the city council.
“This is solely in an effort to be proactive so that we are not forced to be reactive should there be a rapid change of diseases status in our community,” Brown said. “I am hopeful that we all will continue to exercise the precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and no emergency orders will ever be needed.”
According to the proclamation, the only portion of the civil emergencies section of the Gallatin Municipal Code that has been activated authorizes the mayor to take any action she deems necessary for the “protection of life and property.” However, no specific emergency orders or restrictions had been issued as of Wednesday.
Other provisions that were not included in the proclamation, but are permitted by the city’s municipal code, include:
*Order the closing of all retail liquor stores.
*Order the closing of all establishments wherein beer or alcoholic beverages are served.
*Order the closing of all private clubs or portions thereof wherein the consumption of intoxicating liquor and/or beer is permitted.
*Order the discontinuance of the sale of beer.
*Order the discontinuance of selling, distribution, or giving away of gasoline or other liquid flammable or combustible products in any container other than a gasoline tank properly affixed to a motor vehicle.
*Order the closing of gasoline stations and other establishments, the chief activity of which is the sale, distribution, or dispensing of liquid flammable or combustible products.
*Order the discontinuance of selling, distributing, dispensing, or giving away of any firearms or ammunition of any character whatsoever.
*Order the closing of any or all establishments or portions thereof, the chief activity of which is the sale, distribution, dispensing, or giving away of firearms and/or ammunition.
The mayor also has the power to order a general curfew to either certain geographic areas or the entire city “during such hours of the day or night” as deemed necessary “in the interest of the public safety and welfare,” according to the city’s municipal code. Any curfew cannot exceed 15 days.
“I do not want to see us having to close down business or take drastic measures like have been taken in other cities,” Brown reassured members of the Gallatin City Council on Tuesday. “I don’t think we will, but this way we are prepared if something were to change.”
The state of emergency will be in effect for seven days, according to the proclamation. It may be extended incrementally by the mayor as deemed necessary.
On March 13, President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus a national emergency. The decision came one day after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed an emergency declaration allowing the state to bring in more federal funding to respond to the outbreak.
As of Wednesday, there were 98 people in 13 counties across the state that had tested positive for the virus, according to the most recent data from the Tennessee Department of Health. The first two cases of COVID-19 were also confirmed in Sumner County. Davidson County had the largest number of cases with 58 while Williamson County had 24.
Nationwide, there were 7,038 COVID-19 cases in 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands as of Wednesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The total number of deaths was 97.
“This is a challenging time,” Brown said. “If we keep following the guidelines of the experts, social distancing so that we protect the most vulnerable, and caring for one another, this crisis will end sooner. Ultimately, we will be a better and stronger community.”