Four local legislative leaders set joint meeting with Knoxville hospital partners to discuss COVID impact

December 14, 2020

Amidst the COVID-19 surge, four local legislative leaders engage medical professionals from Knoxville’s major healthcare facilities for a special meeting on Wednesday, December 16, at 3:30 p.m.

State Senator Dr. Richard Briggs, County Commission Chair Larsen Jay, Knoxville Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie and Farragut Vice Mayor Louise Povlin have invited experts from The University of Tennessee Medical Center, Covenant Health, Tennova Healthcare, and East Tennessee Children’s Hospital for a meeting titled “COVID and the Community — Our Next Steps Together.”

State legislators, County Commissioners, City Council members and Town of Farragut Aldermen, along with the Honorable Mayors Jacobs, Kincannon and Williams, are invited to participate in a timely roundtable discussion. Local hospital partners will report real-time information about our current COVID situation, leaders will gain deeper knowledge of the pandemic’s impact on area hospitals, and the community will hear a call to action on how to help stop the spread along with proactive solutions to advance Knoxville and Knox County’s aggressive actions against COVID-19.

“I’m looking forward to receiving reliable information from our frontline medical leaders on the impact of COVID on our community and what we as lawmakers can do to help mitigate the spread.” –Tennessee State Senator Dr. Richard Briggs

“My recent tour of the front lines of healthcare was eye-opening. This meeting brings together the thought leaders of our community for a “COVID-reset,” to refresh the most relevant information, clarify misinformation, and provide a forum for elected leaders to hear the facts from area healthcare professionals. As we prepare for the holidays, and the worsening surge, having a unified game plan will keep us all safer and focused on the common goal of community health.” –Knox County Commission Chairman Larsen Jay

“This meeting is a great opportunity to engage in candid conversation with our hospital and government leaders to discuss hospital capacity, emergency plans, what we can expect this winter moving into 2021, vaccine preparedness and additional measures our communities can take to stay safe.” –City of Knoxville Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie

“I think the time is right for us to come together as a community to readdress what we know about COVID and take a realistic look at what might be coming in the future. We are weary of this disease and the precautions it demands, but we need to be encouraging each other to keep up the good fight so we can finish strong. We must work together if we’re going to beat this thing.” –Town of Farragut Vice Mayor Louise Povlin

The meeting will be held virtually on Wednesday, December 16, at 3:30 p.m. and made available to watch by the media and public in accordance with the Open Meetings Act. Interested parties may view the meeting on Knox County’s website (

Participating healthcare professionals:

  • Dr. John Adams – Infectious Disease Physician, Covenant Health
  • Dr. Frank Beuerlein – CMO/CQO, Tennova Healthcare
  • Dr. Mark Browne – SVP & CMO, Covenant Health
  • Dr. Joe Childs – CMO, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital
  • Dr. Keith Gray – SVP & CMO, UT Medical Center
  • Dr. Mark Rasnake – Hospital Epidemiologist & Infectious Disease Physician, UT Medical Center
  • Dr. James Shamiyeh – SVP & CQO, UT Medical Center

Meeting agenda:

  • Introduction
  • Where are we now with COVID?
  • Impact of COVID on local hospitals.
  • What can we expect in the future?
  • Value of following the 5 core actions.
  • Vaccines and next steps.
  • Q & A Session