BLOUNTVILLE — The mayors of Sullivan County and its cities are urging all residents in our region to be safe and use caution during Thanksgiving and the upcoming holiday season. One significant way to do that is by not mixing households over the holidays and spreading the coronavirus to our loved ones.

Our elected leaders made this plea to the community during a press conference Wednesday morning at the Sullivan County Courthouse. The joint press conference included Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable, Kingsport Mayor Pat Shull, Bristol Mayor Mahlon Luttrell and Bluff City Mayor Irene Wells.

“We must still continue with our preventative measures. That includes the standard masking, we must continue with our distancing, but now with the holidays we must now focus on not mixing households and spreading it to our loved ones,” said Dr. Stephen May, the chief medical director for the Sullivan County Health Department. “I encourage everyone to stay home as much as you can and to do basic, preventative measures.”

If you are ill, May said you need to immediately isolate for 10 days, stay away from everyone and get a COVID-19 test. Testing is done five days a week at the Sullivan County Health Depart- ment. Call (423) 279-2777 for more information.

“This is not about politics, not about any other issue, but having passion, respect and care for your fellow friends and loved ones,” May said. “We just have to hang on a little while longer. If we can flatten this curve, we can protect our hospitals, businesses and most of all protect our families from this deadly pandemic.”

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, Northeast Tennessee’s daily COVID-19 case level dropped below 100 on Tuesday as statewide daily cases dropped to just above 1,300.

Three new COVID-19 deaths were reported in the region on that day, bringing the region’s total to 399. Two deaths were reported in Sullivan County and one in Washington County.


Here are some of the key takeaways from our elected leaders during Wednes- day morning’s press conference.

Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable: “People over 50 are more susceptible to serious complications and death, so during this holiday season I encourage and urge our senior citizens to keep your contact closer to immediate family and weigh the risk every time you go out. People must take this as seriously as possible because it is a matter of life and death.”

Bristol Tennessee Mayor Mahlon Luttrell: “The data is pure and simple to read. This virus has impacted more of our older folks. It’s real important to stay home as much as we can because we don’t want someone to bring the virus in. You don’t want to lose a loved one.”

Kingsport Mayor Pat Shull: “We need to be conscious that if we don’t wear our masks, we’ve got a chance of passing on the virus to (frontline responders) and to everybody else. You’ve got to wear a mask, you’ve got to social distance and you’ve got to do the hand sanitation. If people in hospitals can wear a mask and all kinds of protective clothing all day long, certainly our citizens can wear a mask and maintain social distancing for short duration trips.”

Bluff City Mayor Irene Wells: “I’m very concerned about the hospitals in our region. To help our hospitals, we need to do the things that we are told about the virus. If citizens will work with us and the hospitals ... what’s going to happen if the hospitals are full ... and someone has a heart attack or accident ... there’s no place for them to go. If we all work together, I feel like we can accomplish anything.”