Chattanooga YMCA closes area locations as coronavirus concerns spread

Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 9/8/14. Members swim at the Hixson YMCA on September 8, 2014.

The Chattanooga YMCA is closing its four local branches for at least two weeks beginning Wednesday morning, according to a statement from Janet Dunn, president & CEO of YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga.

The local YMCA will transition locations to take on the role of community response centers for those in the health care industry who need child care, she said. The organization is also feeding children at nearly 70 feeding sites across the area, and reaching out to seniors to ensure they are supported and have access to services.

"At present, our plan is to reopen business as usual on Monday, March 30," Dunn said in the statement. "This of course is contingent on the evolution of COVID-19 and CDC guidelines in our community."

The YMCA made the decision in light of recent updates from the CDC, school closures, and state and local health departments, Dunn said.

"This is a unique time for our YMCA communities and nation," she said. "Hard decisions have been made by many local businesses and many other YMCA associations in the country. We wish this decision did not need to have been made, but we know above all else, the safety of our members, families and community is our top priority."

Most of Chattanooga's major attractions, including the Tennessee Aquarium, Ruby Falls and Rock City, have closed indefinitely and movie theaters and restaurants are also shutting down or limiting their operations to only take out.