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Official: Cases at NFS not county residents

By Richard Rourk

While COVID-19 has affected millions of people around the world, Unicoi County has been rather fortunate.

According to Unicoi County Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely, the county has only had one resident that tested positive for COVID-19.

“We had one citizen that tested positive for COVID and they have since been classified as recovered,” Evely told The Erwin Record.

Evely did confirm that there were three employees of Nuclear Fuel Services in Erwin that tested positive for COVID-19.

“There have been three confirmed cases at NFS,” Evely said. “Two of the employees are from Washington County and one was from Knoxville. I understand that they have been in quarantine for more than a week, one of them for two weeks.”

NFS Communications Manager Laura Bailey also recently confirmed that there were positive cases of COVID-19 among employees at NFS.

“Nuclear Fuel Services has confirmed cases of COVID-19 among our employees,” Bailey said. “We are in regular communication with them and their families as we assist them through this difficult time. Due to personal privacy, we do not share individual specifics, however we have been acutely focused on protecting the health and safety of our employees and the community. Our coronavirus response protocols call for enhanced cleaning across the site, social distancing, hand washing, hand sanitizing and use of face masks. In addition, NFS follows the CDC’s guidance governing self-quarantine for those who may have been exposed to coronavirus or who become ill. Employees who experience COVID-19-like symptoms, have potentially been exposed, or are ill have been instructed to stay home.”

According to Evely, the key to Unicoi County’s low numbers is from the citizens doing all they can to combat COVID-19.

“I’d like to say that it’s good luck and that God is watching over us, I firmly believe that,” Evely said. “I am very complimentary to our public here in Unicoi County and the way that they heeded the governor’s direction in social distancing and staying at home. Unicoi, Carter and Johnson counties showed over a 75 percent drop of average travel following the governor’s stay at home order. Our community has done an excellent job of self-policing during this time.”

Evely acknowledged that if Unicoi County residents would like to get tested for COVID-19, they can do so by contacting Unicoi County Health Department at 743-9103..

“Open testing is scheduled for two weeks in Unicoi County,” Evely said. “Citizens can call the health department. (Unicoi County Health Director) Michelle Ramsey and staff are doing a wonderful job.”

According to Evely, May 1 is the date that the region is aiming to lessen the restrictions on citizens.

“We are paying attention to the governor and the health professionals before we are able to open things up a little,” Evely said. “I know small businesses are struggling and we hope they are able to come back soon. We are looking at ways to get life back to the new normal.”