POA still dealing with COVID-19 issues

Chad Johnson, Tellico Village Public Works utilities manager, checks an ultraviolet light unit installed inside the Wellness Center.

Tellico Village Property Owners Association CEO Winston Blazer told the POA Board of Directors that he is working with a physician to hopefully bring COVID-19 vaccinations to the community.

Blazer said Jan. 6 he has been in talks with a Tellico Village resident who has “experience in mass immunizations.”

“He is in contact with the local and regional health departments in the state of Tennessee and is planting the seed that an on-site immunization program for Tellico Village would be the way to handle our large, senior population,” Blazer said. “It’s too early for that decision to be made right now, but there’s a lot of moving parts and pieces going on with this process.”

Teresa Harrill, Loudon County Health Department director, has been answering Blazer’s questions in preparation for the meeting and will keep him updated of new vaccination developments.

As Blazer receives new information, it will be posted to the POA website and distributed to property owners.

“I know that people are frustrated, and I know there are a lot of questions,” he said. “I just implore them to be patient as we work through this, and I know this is very hard on our health department. On a positive note about the vaccination situation, Tennessee is one of four states to have immunizations early, so we are at the head of the line in this process, and that’s very fortunate for us in Tellico Village.”

Blazer said Eventbrite, the previous means of making appointments for vaccinations online, will no longer be used. Instead, the state will implement a new booking system Monday. Information about how to access the new online system will also be posted to the POA website.

After a discussion of vaccinations, Blazer moved on to a COVID-19 operations report.

Ultraviolet air filtering systems were installed Dec. 29 at the Wellness Center. The lights attach to the vents and purify air as it passes by. Air samples were taken before installation and will be taken after to assess their effectiveness, Blazer said.

The board hopes to install more ultraviolet units in various Village buildings.

The POA Recreation Department has also added additional programs to its “menu of selection,” which keep social distancing in mind such as outdoor biking on trails, Blazer said.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the recreation department began requiring reservations for rooms and classes. The Recreation Advisory Committee is in talks about whether the current reservation system will be modified, kept the same or done away with at the end of the pandemic.

Rick Blough, POA board president, emphasized that COVID-19 has not gone away.

“I really wanted to address something that’s been out there with a lot of misinformation, and I actually need to tell people that COVID’s not over,” Blough said. “It may be a new year, but we’re still operating under the same government restrictions, and those restrictions have to do with distancing, and they have to do with the amount of people we can put in an enclosed space. The scheduling program will not change for the present time because we’re required to do it by government regulation.”

Pat White, POA board secretary, said not following guidelines could lead to serious repercussions, which has been the situation with some Knoxville establishments.

“I was looking at some of the figures from when this all started, and I was thinking this morning, we’ve been through an entire government shutdown,” White said. “… If I look back at the numbers, hindsight being 20/20, I don’t really think we were impacted that much February, March and April and perhaps even May. But as COVID appears to be spreading from the metro areas to the lesser population and now to rural areas, we’re actually setting all-time records for COVID cases now.

“… Our choice as the POA board, no matter what I think or you think, is that we have a personal choice to stay away from people or join in crowds, but as a POA board, we do not have a choice … I don’t think we have a choice to not follow the governor’s guidelines or follow the governor’s guidelines,” he added.

White said everything “boils down to individual responsibility” regarding how people act to protect themselves when rules and regulations are in place.

“So Alice and I, as much as we like going to church, and I do need that refreshment every seven days or I tend to start sliding a bit,” White said. “… We haven’t been since February and really miss it, but that’s our choice. Looking back as I mentioned earlier, I should have been going February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, and I think the first case at the church I go to was in October/November, and now there’s five or six as I understand. I missed all of that time, but I’m sure not going back now. But that’s my personal choice.”