Prepping for COVID-19
Following directives by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Hardeman County closed down schools and other government concerns within the county were threatened as the COVID-19 Virus, known as Coronavirus, became a national story.
After issuing an order to suspend in-person court proceedings across the state, Lee asked for the schools to shutdown statewide as well.
“As the response to COVID-19 evolves, I urge every school district in Tennessee to close as soon as practically possible...we understand the tremendous burden school closure places on families, and we will continue to work with both the federal government and school districts to ensure we continue essential supports like meals for students in need. Every Tennessean has a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and I urge Tennesseans to be quick to help neighbors as new needs surface with the closure of schools.”
Hardeman County Schools complied almost immediately, closing schools until Monday, April 6.
Across the county, government offices remained open, but the only library remaining open is the Lee Ola Roberts Library in Whiteville, while libraries in Middleton, Bolivar and Grand Junction closed.
“Our library is the only source of services for our people,” said Whiteville Mayor Aubrey Phillips. “It is the distribution point of commodities and it’s the only place some of our people can use to get the internet.”
Hardeman County Mayor Jimmy Sain said county offices will stay open until it is necessary to close them.
“We would need people in the county to be infected before we would close,” he said. “We have a plan in place if that happens.”
Sain added that while this is similar to the flu each winter, the county is asking for extra precautions.
“We are asking the public to refrain from attending public gatherings to slow the spread of the virus as it passes through the county,” he said.
As of the morning of March 18, the Tennessee Department of Health reported 73 cases, with the nearest case reported in Shelby County. No county bordering Hardeman County has reported a confirmed case.
The City of Bolivar has taken a similar path.
“I would like to communicate to our citizens that we are exercising caution, not panic, in our decision to reduce non-essential services. At this time, the Bolivar Senior Center, Bolivar-Hardeman County Library, Bolivar Municipal Center community room, and the Bolivar Municipal Center gymnasium are all closed to the public,” said Mayor Julian McTizic, adding for the time being that all other city services and city administrative offices are open for routine business.
Churches have varied in their responses to the virus.
On March 17, First Baptist Church in Bolivar announced they will not have services March 21 or 28, but that their offices will remain open as will their child-care services.
The First United Methodist Church in Bolivar will also forgo services for the next two weeks, with limited office hours available.
The church of Christ in Middleton is planning to have both Sunday services on March 22.
St. James Church in Bolivar will not be open until further notice, as directed by Bishop Phoebe Roaf of the Diocese of West Tennessee.
Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Whiteville is considering alternative ways to hold services.
Zion Temple Worship Center in Bolivar had no plans to close at press time, although precautions are being taken to protect attendees.