Dear Friends,
 
Since the tornado, things have moved so quickly, it has been difficult to sit down and compose a newsletter.  I’d like to give a very big public Thank You to Chelsea Moubarak, who has assisted several Council Members with putting together a comprehensive list of information, resources and much more.  She’s done a great job with compiling much of the information below.
 
Between the tornado and now a global pandemic, I know it feels like we’re living in the Twilight Zone.  There has never been a time more than now as your Council Member that I have felt more helpless.  My heart breaks for those that were impacted by the tornado and now we’ve been hit with the one-two punch in dealing with COVID-19.  That said, I have seen extraordinary service to one another and unparalleled perseverance.  Thank you to each of you for taking care of your neighbors and community.  Please continue to support small business and their employees who are struggling immensely now.  Take-out, delivery and curb side service are being offered by just about all our favorite local restaurants.

Vice Mayor Jim Shulman announced the creation of a Special Committee of the Metro Council that brings together the eight Councilmembers whose Council Districts were directly or indirectly impacted by the recent tornadoes that swept through Nashville and the Middle Tennessee area.  They are Kyonzté Toombs (District 2), Sean Parker (5), Brett Withers (6), Erin Evans (12), Kevin Rhoten (14), me (15), Freddie O’Connell (19), and Brandon Taylor (21).  This Special Committee will be responsible for four tasks: 

  1. Continue to assess the needs of the impacted areas (Do they have supplies, what about power problems, other concerns?)
  2. Allow impacted Councilmembers to continue to have a voice about the needs of their districts;
  3. Watch the flow of resources back into the community (Are funds getting to those most in need?); and
  4. Reporting back to the Mayor and the Metro Council on a regular basis regarding the first three items.

As always, please do not hesitate to let me know what resources or assistance you need as we continue to recover and rebuild.
 
I can’t express in words what The Donelson Fellowship and all our faith communities have done to help us recover from the tornado.  TDF’s partnership with Samaritan’s Purse meant that we had hundreds of volunteers on site within a day or two.  It was extraordinary to be part of this effort.  With the inclusion of our Donelson and Nashville neighbors from all over assisting each other, Saturday March 7th was the most incredible day of service I have ever seen.  We had approximately 2,000 volunteers and what an amazing difference each and every one of the volunteers made in our community.  Here I am with Pastor Russ King from Donelson Church of Christ and Pastor Tommy Swindol with The Donelson Fellowship on the morning of March 7th before we all got to work.  The second picture I took from the stage to show the first round of volunteers.  There were about 400 people waiting outside for the next round of orientation and project assignments!
 



 
March 31st was the first State of Metro address from Mayor John Cooper and suffice to say, it was focused on a message of perseverance and a conviction that we will get through these difficult times together.  It was held in the Metro Council Chamber and aside from program participants, the room was empty and everyone watched from home.  As President Pro Tem of Council, I participated in the program.  I encourage you to watch it on Metro Nashville Network, found online as well as Comcast channel 3, Google Fiber channel 3, Uverse channel 99 and is available on Roku.

I know many are very concerned with the announcement Mayor Cooper made about a substantial tax increase. We will focus on that next as a budget proposal is delivered to Council and I will share more details when we have a budget presented to us. It’s important those eligible sign up for the Tax Freeze program. The Trustee’s Office has extended the deadline to apply. Please visit their website here (https://www.nashville.gov/Trustee.aspx) for more information.



 
 


Summary of the local COVID-19 situation:

Mayor Cooper’s daily briefings:

 

 
These briefings typically provide updates from:

Watch former briefings here on Metro's YouTube Channel
 
Briefings are broadcast in full by all local TV news stations.  You can also watch on Metro Nashville Network via Comcast Channel 3, Google Fiber Channel 3, AT&T U-verse Channel 99 and here.
 
Residents can also stay up to date on the latest COVID-19 updates from the Mayor’s Office and MPHD here and by following the Mayor’s social media channels below:
 
Twitter: @JohnCooper4Nash
Facebook: facebook.com/MayorJohnCooper
Instagram: @johncooper4nashville
 

Safer at Home Order:

 
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow, The Metro Public Health Department issued a Safer at Home Order, which includes the closure of all non-essential businesses effective at 12:01am on Monday, March 23.  Residents of Davidson County are directed to stay inside their homes and immediately limit all movement outside their homes beyond what is absolutely necessary to take care of essential needs.  As noted below, grocery stores will remain open and the supply chain remains robust, so there's no need to hoard food and other items.
 
Under the order, you CAN:

 Under the order, you SHOULD NOT:

An overview of the order:

All gatherings are strongly discouraged, and those with greater than 10 people are prohibited. Gatherings include any event or convening unrelated to essential services that brings together groups of individuals, including, but not limited to, community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based, or sporting events; parades; concerts; festivals; conventions; fundraisers; and similar activities.
 
NOTE: As of March 24, playgrounds, dog parks, basketball courts, tennis courts, picnic shelters, and skate parks will be closed until further notice. Parks, greenways, trails and golf courses remain open. Everyone using these open spaces needs to adhere to CDC guidance on social distancing and hand hygiene, remaining 6 feet apart.
 
You can learn more about the Safer at Home Order here.


 

Metro Services:

Learn more about Metro Department responses here.
 

Private Business and Utilities:

 

The Nashville Chamber of Commerce website has assembled many helpful resources, including information about:

The Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation has also assembled a list of Residential, Labor, & Job Services for individuals and businesses impacted, including a list of businesses who are currently hiring.
 
If you are experiencing Domestic, Physical, or Sexual Violence during this period of time at home you can call or text the Domestic Violence Hotline.
 
If you are experiencing a Mental Health Crisis or Emotional Stress you can call the TN Statewide Crisis Hotline at 855-274-7471.
 

Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) information:

 
We know this unprecedented time brings unique challenges to our families and students. We’re working closely with our community partners to continue to provide meals to all students.
 
Breakfast and lunch for students: On Monday, March 23, and continuing every weekday that schools are closed, breakfast and lunch will be available to anyone under the age of 18, regardless of their school status; however, they must be present to collect the meals, per federal law. The bagged or boxed meals will be provided in a drive-through setup. Meals will be available for pickup between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at the locations listed on the MNPS website here.
 
Delivery meals: Six MNPS school buses will be used to pick up approximately 250 meals each from preparation kitchens and brought to locations where children are able to pick up the meals.  Locations and times for the bus drivers to provide meals are listed here.
 
For ways to supplement your child's at-home learning, check out these free at-home learning resources here.



Here is another source of help and info for those who might need it: the Crisis Line at Family & Children’s Service (FCS), one of Nashville’s oldest nonprofits that offers safety net social services directly to clients. You can call 615-244-7444 anytime, or text the word "HERE" to 615-502-HERE (4373) between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., Mon-Fri.
 
Additionally, the FCS Healthcare Access line is 866-475-7879; they help with TennCare, CoverKids, Marketplace insurance, and resources for those who are uninsured or underinsured. They have staff who speak Spanish, Kurdish & Arabic, so please pass this along to neighbors who might be able to use this help.
 

What is COVID-19 and how do I protect myself?

 
SPREAD:  Coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can travel up to 6 feet, which is why it is recommended to stay 6 feet away from others.  The virus can also remain on a surface or object and enter through the mouth, nose, or eyes. That is why you must wash your hands before touching your face.
 
PREVENTION:

 
SYMPTOMS:
 
If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough, fatigue, or shortness of breath, you should call ahead to a doctor or healthcare provider and discuss your symptoms.  They can assist you with your individual needs.  It takes 2-14 days to develop symptoms after exposure to the virus.  The average is 5 days.
 
Most people who have COVID-19 do not feel sick and show no symptoms for two weeks, but are contagious, which makes the virus easy to spread.
Here are some animated simulations showing how it happens.
 
SEEK TESTING IF YOU ARE:

 
WHERE TO SEEK TESTING:
 
First, call your doctor and/or call Metro’s Coronavirus Hotline at 615-862-7777, as they can assist you with your individual needs and direct you where to go for testing if necessary.
 
Apple, in partnership with the CDC, FEMA, and The White House, has launched an interactive COVID-19 screening tool that will help users determine what steps they should take, including testing. The tool guides users through a set of questions covering symptoms, risk factors, and potential exposure. Users can also find links to these tools at Coronavirus.Gov and on Metro’s response website at A Safe Nashville.
 
OEM, the Department of Public Health, and healthcare partners, constructed three Community Assessment Centers across Davidson County.

These drive-thru centers are now open and serving the public from 9am-3pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Staff will collect a sample by swabbing your nose or throat.  HOWEVER, you must call the city's coronavirus hotline, 615-862-7777, before going to a testing site so they can help you determine if you need to be further assessed at a center.
 
Click here to view a list of all the COVID-19 Assessment Sites throughout TN.
 
I’m thankful to the Nashville Fairgrounds for utilizing their facilities to assist our homeless and unhoused neighbors.  Read more about that here.
 
Help for Senior Citizens: Call FiftyForward at 615-743-3416, who can assist with food delivery, prescription assistance, case management and more for older adults in need of assistance.
 
Here is also another great way to volunteer and support our neighbors who are at a higher risk.
 

 
Call 211 for help with rent, electric bills, and any other concerns about lost wages, or if you are living alone and need food brought to you. 
 
Call 311 for Hub Nashville or use the phone app or website here for any ongoing Metro-related issues.
 
Resources at-a-glance:



Federal stimulus package:

 
On Friday, March 27, President Trump signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), to offer economic assistance to millions of Americans, healthcare workers, small businesses, and State/Tribal/Local governments to get through this challenging time.
 
The package includes:

This aid comes on top of the Family First Coronavirus Aid Package, which increased the federal share of Medicaid payments through the emergency period by 6.2 percentage points and provided reimbursements to States for the cost of expanding certain public assistance programs.
 
State/Local/Tribal provisions include:

What does this mean for my family?

 
It depends on your income. Most adults will get $1,200, although some would get less. For every qualifying child age 16 or under, the payment will be an additional $500.  Single adults with Social Security numbers who have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less will get the full amount. Married couples with no children earning $150,000 or less will receive a total of $2,400. And taxpayers filing as head of household will get the full payment if they earned $112,500 or less.  Above those income figures, the payment decreases until it stops altogether for single people earning $99,000 or married people who have no children and earn $198,000. According to the Senate Finance Committee, a family with two children will no longer be eligible for any payments if its income surpassed $218,000.  You can’t get a payment if someone claims you as a dependent, even if you’re an adult. In any given family and in most instances, everyone must have a valid Social Security number in order to be eligible. There is an exception for members of the military.  You can find your adjusted gross income on Line 8b of the 2019 1040 federal tax return.




 
Will I have to apply to receive a payment?
 
No. If the Internal Revenue Service already has your bank account information, it will transfer the money to you via direct deposit based on the recent income-tax figures it already has.
 
When will my payment come?

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he expected most people to get their payments within three weeks.  Check out this really helpful NY Times article with FAQs about the stimulus package, including individual payments, unemployment benefits, student loans, and retirement accounts, and charitable contributions.


  
The Emergency Cash Assistance provides two monthly cash payments to families that were employed as of March 11, 2020 and have lost a job or at least 50% of their earned income due to the COVID-19 emergency. This money is funded by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and provides:

 
This assistance is available in addition to any unemployment benefits individuals in the family may be receiving.  To be eligible, families must have been employed as of March 11, 2020 but have since then lost employment or at least 50% of their earned income due to the COVID-19 emergency, include a child under the age of 18 or a pregnant woman, have a valid Social Security Number, must not have resources exceeding $2,000, and the gross and/or unearned monthly income may not exceed 85% of the State’s Median Income that’s currently:

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is a federal workforce development and employment program emphasizing work, training, and personal responsibility. It is temporary and has a primary focus on gaining self-sufficiency through employment. Existing TANF customers receiving Families First benefits will be eligible to apply for this emergency cash assistance.  To apply, visit here.



Update on Disaster Assistance Centers for Tornado Recovery:

 
Davidson County’s three Disaster Assistance Centers in Davidson County closed in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The facilities, located at East Park, Hadley and Hermitage Community Centers were opened to offer in-person support to individuals and businesses recovering from tornadoes earlier this month.  Assistance is still available online or via phone call. Survivors can reach FEMA at DisasterAssitance.gov or 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585).  The toll-free numbers are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. local time, seven days a week.  May 4th is the deadline to apply.

Thanks to the Realtors Relief Foundation, assistance is available to qualified applicants towards mortgage or rent due to displacement or loss of a primary residence. Click here (https://tnrealtors.com/2020/tornado-relief-opportunities?fbclid=IwAR3XG4EiV6kDezTU_MoXIQrt_jnDEqeoKyse0wH3Ovvt-5Vy4xV4cNI-KfE) for more information.
 
Applications for assistance from the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) are available online. TDHS is accepting applications for Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) benefits and the Families First/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Cash Assistance program.
 
Metro Social Services office will remain open with abbreviated walk-in hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Continue to follow A Safer Nashville website for status on all Metro services.
 
Metro Action Commission (MAC) will be open for regular in-person business hours Monday through Friday from 8am-4:30pm at 800 2nd Avenue North. MAC has programs that help with rent, mortgage, and utility payments and rental deposits.  If applying for help with your utility payment and you are not able to walk in, the application is available on the MAC webpage here. Applications are available also by mail, email or faxed to you by calling 615-862-8860, Ext 70100 or by requesting via email at metro.action@nashville.gov.
 
Help Meet Immediate Needs
 
United Way and their partners are working to ensure every person in our community has shelter, food, clothing and resources to get through these challenging times.

If you were affected by the March 3rd tornado, please visit the Nashville Financial Empowerment Center page for in-depth information on financial disaster recovery. Also, please visit Metro Nashville’s Storm Response website for information on additional resources.
 
Support Long-term Recovery
 
In addition to continued support from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the United Way of Greater Nashville will mobilize their Restore the Dream fund to support our community’s long-term recovery efforts. The road to full recovery is long and takes a significant, community-wide response.
 
Funds will be distributed to 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations through an independent application process. Fund distribution will remain separate from United Way’s general Community Fund. All decisions regarding fund distribution are made by the Restore the Dream Committee, which is made of up leaders from United Way’s Board of Trustees and community members.


  

Metro Nashville Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Announces Emergency Supply Drive for Medical, Protective Equipment:

 
In response to a critical shortage of medical and personal protective equipment (PPE), OEM has announced an emergency supply drive. OEM is asking community members, including local medical facilities and professionals who are not involved in caring for COVID-19 patients, to donate new and unused medical and PPE that could protect staff members and providers involved in the city’s response.
 
Metro is asked specifically for these donations:

“We are preparing our collective resources to ensure we can care for those who may become ill in the coming weeks,” said Chair of Metro’s COVID-19 Task Force Dr. Alex Jahangir. “Though we are taking all appropriate steps to preserve our resources, we must prepare for a shortage. Medical and PPE supplies are essential to our ability to care for each other and keep our healthcare providers and first responders safe. We are so grateful to the individuals and business leaders who are willing to support our efforts by donating supplies in the name of public health.”
 
Anyone with unused and new medical supplies or PPE to donate may contact OEM at OEM@nashville.gov or complete the donations form.
 
For smaller donations, donors can drop off the medical supplies and PPE Monday-Saturday, 10 am-4 pm at the Community Resource Center, 218 Omohundro Place, Nashville, TN 37210
 
At this time, Metro is only accepting the donation of the new, unused medical PPE that is noted above. Medical devices, medications, food, linens or handmade masks, caps or gowns will not be accepted at this time.
 
Ideas to Stay Engaged and Connected



There are great, live Facebook events from the St. Louis Aquarium and the Nashville Zoo is also posting fun and adorable animal videos to be enjoyed by adults and children alike.
 
Live streaming Nashville music
You can tune into Music City Bandwidth, hosted by Visit Music City, where Nashville's favorite artists and local venues are live streaming concerts.  Many musicians have begun to utilize online concerts to assist them as the hospitality industry suffers immensely and many musicians are out of work.  Please support them and the venues like Exit / In, Station Inn, 3rd & Lindsley and all others as you’re able.  They are the life-blood of Music City.
 
Virtual Offerings from Nashville Attractions
There are tons of offerings to choose from, including from the Adventure Science Center, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Escape Game, Frist Art Museum, Jack Daniel Distillery, and the Nashville Symphony.  View Virtual Offerings from Nashville Attractions
 

Due to COVID-19, the Census is temporarily suspending field operations. Please do your part by having your family fill out the census by phone or online. Call the numbers below or visit: http://my2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020.  For Spanish, call 844-468-2020.
 
The results of the 2020 Census will help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into communities every year for the next decade.  That funding shapes many different aspects of every community, no matter the size, no matter the location.
 
Census results influence so much, including:

We lose $1,091 per person, per year of funding from FMAP (Federal Medical Assistance Percentage) for each person who does not complete the Census. (**per The George Washington University Institute of Public Policy).  At least 22 Federal Grant programs use Census Data. When you don't complete the census, our community suffers.
 
To conclude on a positive note, I was honored to be able to help with the grand opening of our new American Legion Post 88.  It was held on Sunday, March 8th, the day after our massive day of service and volunteerism.  Thank you to Commander Len Chappell and all the leadership and members of Post 88 for this great new facility in the community to support our veterans.  It was a beautiful sunny day and as an example of how great our community is, at the opening, I was discussing with members of the Ladies Auxiliary how Two Rivers Middle School needed assistance replenishing food and supplies that had to be given away or tossed because of the power outage at the school from the tornado.  They immediately took to action and delivered much needed supplies for our students and families that depend on Two Rivers Middle as an accessible community pantry.
 



 
I know this was a long newsletter, so if you’re reading this, you made it all the way through!  As always, I am here to serve you.  My cell is 615-886-9906.  Call me anytime if I can be of any assistance to you during these challenging times.  We will come back stronger and we are already seeing the indomitable spirit of how strong and resilient our community is.
 
Best,
 


615-886-9906