COVID-19 Resources

Public health is a shared responsibility. Communities, businesses and individuals can and should take measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The CDC has advice on how familiesschools and businesses can plan for and respond to the virus. The CDC has also issued travel information for those going abroad and have supplied FAQs to help travelers decide if they should cancel or postpone their plans.

For the business community specifically, the CDC has issued a guide for employers to respond to the virus. Recommendations include: actively encouraging sick employees to stay home, flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene.

Information and Resources

The Knoxville Chamber will continue to monitor the situation and keep our investors and the business community updated. At this time, all in-person investor events are postponed. Attendees will be notified regarding status changes of individual meetings or programs. We are currently hosting select events and updates virtually. Please view our full events calendar for details.

The U.S. Chamber supports these CDC recommendations and urges state and local chambers, its members and the wider business community to adopt and implement these standards if they have not done so already. Based on information provided by the CDC, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation created two guides to help employers and employees prepare for and address the impacts of the Coronavirus:

Mayor Indya Kincannon issued an Executive Order June 29, 2020 mandating masks be worn inside all City-owned buildings due to growing concerns over COVID-19.  This executive order went into effect July 1st at all City owned facilities. The executive order can be found HERE.

On July 1, 2020, the Knox County Board of Health voted to issue the COVID-19 Face Covering Regulation requiring community members to wear face coverings in most public areas. The intent of this order is to increase face covering usage and slow the spread of COVID-19. View more details of the executive order HERE.

The Knox County Board of Health issued a revised order on August 5, 2020 stating the suspension of on-premise consumption of food and drink in bars within Knox County after 10 p.m. EST in order to protect the health of citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the revised regulation HERE.

COVID-19 – Knox County Health Department

Mayor Jacobs Proposal for Strategic Phased Reopening

Knox County Schools has released an official reopening plan, which includes a delayed start date, online & in-person options, mask requirements and more. Get the details HERE.

The Knox County Health Department has resumed distribution of the state-provided cloth face coverings. If your organization would like more information or to place an order for employees or patrons, please click complete the order form HERE.

In addition to responding to thousands of infectious disease cases annually, Knox County Health Department’s (KCHD) epidemiology and emergency response teams also routinely prepare for public health threats and will continue to protect the health and safety of people in Knox County. KCHD has launched a COVID-19 Public Information Line. The hotline number is 865-215-5555 or individuals may call toll-free at 888-288-6022. The information line will be available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.

Call volume is expected to be high. Callers are urged to be patient if they receive a busy signal and try their call at a later time. People with concerns about their health should contact their healthcare providers.

Multilingual Resources | Recursos en Español 

The Knox County Health Department (KCHD) has created several short, educational videos in Spanish on COVID-19 topics. The videos can be viewed by visiting KCHD’s Facebook page or YouTube channel. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made available an online Communications Toolkit that has COVID-19 information and graphics that can be easily downloaded in 28 languages HERE.

Businesses, no matter their size, can significantly influence our community’s readiness, awareness, resources and engagement against the spread of the COVID-19. This begins with organizational preparedness, including risk management teams and contingency plans.

Employers should prepare and socialize an Outbreak Response Plan and:

  • Ensure the plan is flexible and involves employees in development and review.
  • Conduct a focused discussion or exercise using the plan, to find out ahead of time whether the plan has gaps or problems that need to be corrected.
  • Share the plan with employees and explain what human resources policies, workplace and leave flexibility, pay and benefits are available.

Tennessee small businesses are now eligible for disaster assistance loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Click HERE for information on the application process or APPLY through the SBA website.

The SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. These loans are slated to be available by April 3. Learn more HERE or APPLY today.

Gov. Bill Lee has directed the Tennessee Department of Revenue to issue Economic Relief Payments to assist small businesses with the costs incurred as a result of mandatory business closures and significant revenue drop in April due to COVID-19. Learn more HERE.

Latest Guidelines from the President and White House Cornavirus Task Force – 30 Days to Slow the Spread

Latest Guidelines, Statements and Updates from TN Governor Bill Lee

Knoxville Chamber’s Business Support Page

Fill out our Regional Response Form

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration. Learn More.

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) is announcing relief provisions for exporters and financial institutions located throughout the United States that may have been affected by COVID-19. If you have encountered any shipment problems, payment difficulties, liquidity problems or other business interruptions that require other flexible arrangements from EXIM in addition to the ones outlined HERE, EXIM stands ready to work with you in partnership to overcome these issues. Learn More.

Resilience in a Box is based on best practices and designed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with UPS, to educate newcomers on business resilience. Small businesses are both highly vulnerable and can be without adequate resources to focus on preparedness actions. These resources will guide companies toward addressing preparedness issues while building in flexibility to handle potential business interruptions. Learn More.

The Tennessee Department Of Labor has developed a new FAQ page with contact information and resources for employers, employees and those who are self-employed. Learn more.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses. You can learn more information about assistance HERE. (Español)

If you are seeking an immediate opportunity, please visit THIS link to view professional resources.

We also want to prepare for when normal operations resume. And they will. If you have experienced a layoff and will be looking for work, please be on the lookout for an updated Employee Hiring Form. The Chamber will supply the list to businesses on request when they begin to rehire.

When a Tennessee business closes to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and temporarily has to lay off employees, those workers can collect unemployment benefits if they meet other eligibility requirements. www.tn.gov/workforce now has separate sections for employers, employees, frequently asked questions about unemployment, and for the latest changes at American Job Centers.

Guide to Partial & Mass Layoffs Claims for Employers

Filing Guide for Unemployment Due to COVID-19

Weekly Certification Instructions for Partial Claims

The United States Department of Health and Human Services, along with the CDC, recommends that companies:

  • Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies.
  • Speak with vendors that provide contract or temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies.
  • Do not require a health care provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as health care provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.
  • Employers should maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.

According to OSHA, the Wage and Hour Division provides information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to influenza, pandemics, or other public health emergencies, and their effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Learn more here. 

For more information, view the U.S. Chamber’s “Guidance for Employers to Plan and Respond to the Coronavirus (Covid-19)” PDF.

Harvard Business Review outlines 5 recommendations in the article, “What’s Your Company’s Emergency Remote-Work Plan?”:

  1. Acknowledge the possibility that all or part of your workforce may need to work remotely.
  2. Map out jobs and tasks that could be affected.
  3. Audit available IT hardware and software, and close any gaps in access and adoption.
  4. Set up a communications protocol in advance.
  5. Identify ways to measure performance that could inform broader change.

Read more here.

Manufacturers across the country are stepping up to the plate to help their communities, and Tennessee is no exception. If you are interested in producing and contributing PPE & medical devices to help protect people from COVID-19, please visit the University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services’s “How You Can Help” page which includes links to resources for manufacturers who are able to assist with production needs and a critical supply survey.

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