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Local Nurse Practitioner Addresses County Commission Seeking Mask Mandate

December 30, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

A local nurse practitioner who has cared for patients with Covid-19 over the last nine months and has suffered from the virus herself addressed the county commission Monday night to tell her story and to request a mask mandate for DeKalb County to slow the spread.

“I am here today to ask you do the right thing. Not the popular thing. Not the Democratic or Republican thing. But the right thing by the people of DeKalb County. I urge you to call for a mask mandate for our county,” said Gianna Owens.

In her remarks to the commission, Owens described the impact Covid has had on her personally and talked about the rising number of cases in DeKalb County and across the state as well as the risks of not wearing masks.

“I am here as both a patient and a nurse practitioner who has been caring for patients with Covid for the past 9 months,” said Owens.

“My story is not unique. It is the story of scores of people in DeKalb County, Tennessee and the US”.

“I was diagnosed with Covid pneumonia in September. At first all I had was a runny nose I thought were allergies. I had no fever, no cough or shortness of breath,” she said

“Even when I was transported to Cookeville Regional , I had no fever. What I had was a dangerous drop in my oxygen level and my heart rate normally 68 had shot up to 165”.

“The ER doctor said I was lucky I had picked it up early. I was treated with IV medications and given more medication to take at home,” Owens continued.

“I lost 14 days of work. I am lucky I have insurance and PTO”.

“Many others ignore, deny or hide their symptoms because without work they cannot feed their families. Many have no insurance or just do not believe Covid is real and they push till there is nothing else we can do but admit them to ICU”.

“On December 22 after a particularly difficult shift where I saw 50 patients, more than half with Covid I started to feel my heart summersault . I continued working chalking it off to stress. But then I felt it again and took my pulse and knew something was wrong,” said Owens.

“I was once again transported to Cookeville Regional, because we have no cardiologist on call. When I arrived, I was found to be in afib with rapid ventricular response and what that means is that my heart was beating so fast and irregularly that I was at risk of blowing a clot and having a stroke”.

“I was admitted to the cardiology unit where I was started on IV medication to prevent clots and put my heart back into rhythm”.

“An extensive work up revealed I had nothing. I have no hypertension, DM , high cholesterol or thyroid disorder . What I do have is still damage to my lungs from the Covid infection in September,” said Owens.

“The cardiologist, Doctor Dockery said they are seeing many patients with Covid and post Covid developing new cardiac disorders such as mine. He said I was lucky I caught it early. Others have had strokes and died”.

“I am what they call a long hauler. I have continued to suffer the effects of my infection. I am easily fatigued. I have hair loss. My lungs still have Covid signed on them and I will be on medication to prevent clots and keep my heart in rhythm until further notice,” she said.

“I have lost more days of work. I am lucky I have insurance and PTO. I will be back tomorrow to continue this fight but many others in DeKalb County , in Tennessee and in the United States will have long term disabilities and shortened life expectancy because of Covid”.

“We yet have to determine the extent because we healthcare workers have been going non stop to keep people alive”.

“Tennessee is leading the world in Covid cases per capita. People are suffering and dying. Our hospitals are in crisis and we are tired”.

“Hundreds of Tennesseans are losing their livelihoods and businesses. Today we have over 560,000 cases in Tennessee. More than 6,000 new cases added in the past 48 hours. More than 6,500 Tennesseans have died. DeKalb County is among the top counties in the State for case rate. We have added 1,500 new cases in the last 3 months and 30 are dead,” Owens continued.

“I am here to tell you Covid is real”.

“The Governor made it clear that he would not order a statewide mask mandate leaving counties and cities like ours to fend for themselves”.

“Vanderbilt has studied counties with mask mandates and those without and found that the counties with mandates had lower case and or death rates”.

“Were you not wearing a mask when you became infected you may ask? I was but the person that infected me was not and I could not demand they wear a mask when we do not have a mandate,” said Owens.

“Mayor, Commissioners, Ladies and Gentlemen I am here today to ask you do the right thing, Not the popular thing. Not the Democratic or Republican thing. But the right thing by the people of DeKalb County”.

“I want our economy to remain open but I also want us to be alive”.

“How many more need to die, be infected or have permanent disabilities?”

“How many more must lose their livelihoods?”

“I urge you to call for a mask mandate for our county”.

“Do the right thing,” Owens concluded.

No action was taken on a local mask mandate but the county commission adopted a resolution calling on the Governor and State Legislature to issue a statewide mask mandate.




Community Calendar Closings

December 29, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

County Clerk Office Processing On-line and Postal Mail business
Due to Covid-19, the DeKalb County Clerk’s Office’s drive-thru window remains closed to the public but on-line and postal mail transactions are being processed. Plans are to reopen the office on Monday, January 4.

The Mike Foster Multipurpose Center to be Closed for the New Year Holiday

The Mike Foster Multipurpose Center in the County Complex will close Thursday New Year’s Eve December 31st at 2:00 p.m. and will be closed Friday New Year’s Day January 1 and Saturday January 2, 2021.

Court House and County Offices to be closed for the holiday
The DeKalb County Courthouse, County Complex County Offices, and Senior Center will be closed Friday New Year’s Day January 1, 2021..

DeKalb County Transfer Station and all trash collection sites to be closed New Year’s Day
The DeKalb County Transfer Station and all trash collection sites will be closed Friday New Year’s Day, 2021.

No Garbage Pickup in Smithville on New Year’s Day
The City of Smithville has announced that there will be no garbage pickup on New Year’s Day. All Friday garbage routes will be run Monday, January 4 along with the regular Monday routes. All Thursday garbage pickup routes will be run as scheduled New Year’s Eve, December 31

DeKalb County Libraries Holiday Schedule
Justin Potter and Alexandria Libraries will be closed New Year’s Day on January 1st.

LBJ Head Start to be Closed for Holidays
The L.B.J.& C. Development Corporation Head Start Centers will be closed through January 3, 2021. Children and staff will return to the Head Start Centers on January 4, 2021. The L.B.J.& C. Development Corporation Head Start Central Office will be closed January 1, 2021.

Students will be back in school Monday, January 4

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps said plans are for students to return to their schools for in-person learning Monday except for those who have already previously signed up to be on remote learning. Parents who want their children to be signed up for virtual learning for the first time may contact the school where their children attend on Monday, January 4.




DeKalb Schools Reopen Monday, January 4

December 29, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

Students will be back in school Monday, January 4.

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps said plans are for students to return to their schools for in-person learning Monday except for those who have already previously signed up to be on remote learning. Parents who want their children to be signed up for virtual learning for the first time may contact the school where their children attend on Monday, January 4.




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