NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — Earlier this week, businesses in downtown Nashville were forced to close their doors just after a city mandate that required bars to stop operations amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Mayor John Cooper declared a public health emergency on Sunday and issued a state of emergency Wednesday.

The outbreak and subsequent mandate has impacted several employees like Casey Cattie. She was expecting a phone call from work at Bobby Hotel, but she said the call went beyond what she envisioned. She was told by staff she was being laid-off permanently.

“I have no money coming in, I’m just a singer song writer in Nashville and I was serving to make the money to get by,” said Cattie, “At this point as a server it’s not really about the lay-off, but about the fact that I was denied PTO that I earned over 15 months of working for the company.”

Cattie says she accrued about 80 hours of Paid Time Off at the hotel. She was hoping to get that money to help land her back on her feet after being let go. She says the employee handbook spells out PTO, as all employees will be paid all accrued PTO unless terminated for good reason. She says a state of emergency unfortunately, didn’t appear to be a good reason.

“This is all coming after a tornado, it’s all coming after a worldwide pandemic, knowing I had no other paycheck coming in the mail to me with my accrued PTO, I packed a bag as quickly as possibly and I drove up to Indianapolis,” said Cattie.

She says she could no longer afford to live in Nashville; so she moved in with friends and filed for unemployment benefits.

Governor Bill Lee says the Department of Labor and Workforce Development is working to extend unemployment benefits to people who suddenly find themselves out of work because of the pandemic.

However, Cattie says like her job that too is only temporary , “I expected not to really be working, but definitely didn’t expect to get laid off.”

We’ve reached out to representatives with Bobby Hotel and we’re waiting for a response.

DETAILS: State to give benefits to those quarantined, unemployed during COVID-19 outbreak

The department is working to do the following during the outbreak:
· Extend unemployment benefits to employees who suddenly find themselves out of work as businesses temporarily cease operations during the pandemic.
· Extending unemployment benefits to those who are quarantined by a physician for COVID-19 and are temporarily away from their job.
· Working with the federal government to gain more flexibility in job search requirements.
· Suspending certain regulations so those who are approved will get paid more quickly.

MORE TENNESSEE COVID-19 COVERAGE

What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for “Coronavirus disease 2019,” which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.

Prevention

The CDC is recommending “common sense” measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Governor Bill Lee’s guidance for mass gatherings, schools, state employees and the state capitol building to prevent the virus’ spread:

Mass Gatherings

The CDC recommends gatherings of 10 people or more in the U.S. be canceled or postponed over the next eight weeks. The CDC added this advisory does not apply to placed of business and schools.

Schools

Tennessee schools are urged to close as soon as practically possible, with all schools expected to close by March 20. Schools should remain closed through March 31 to further mitigate the spread of the infectious disease.

State Employees, Business Travel

Effective immediately, state employees who have been trained and certified to work from home within the state’s Alternative Workplace Solutions (AWS) program will work from home through March 31, 2020. Approximately 11,000 state employees are certified AWS employees and can begin work from home with no disruption to state business.

Effective immediately, state employees have been instructed to cease all non-essential business travel through March 31, 2020.

Tennessee State Capitol Closed to Visitors

The Tennessee State Capitol is closed to tours and visitors through March 31, 2020. Members of the media will continue to have access to the State Capitol building.





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