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The Chattanooga City Council will likely suspend through end of March after an international pandemic outbreak of COVID-19 made its way to the local region late last week. 

Council Chairman and representative of Downtown Chattanooga, where the first and only known case of the virus in Hamilton County was identified on Friday, Erskine Oglesby told the Times Free Press on Sunday that he plans to cancel all meetings through at least the end of the month.

To comply with state open meetings laws, Oglesby will ask council to vote on suspending the meetings on Tuesday at the beginning of the weekly strategic planning meeting, an informal meeting of the council which usually has little-to-no community turnout. 

"I'm looking to do this out of safety for our constituents," he said.

Oglesby said he expects council members to support the motion, meaning there will be no agenda meeting or business meeting that day and no meetings of any kind until at least April. 

The chairman said council is making the decision out of consideration for the states of emergency declared on the state and city level last week, and he will monitor the outbreak to determine the appropriate date to resume regular meetings.

(Read more: Chattanooga priest with coronavirus had contact with hundreds of people in weeks following exposure) 

"The rest of he city is adhering to Gov. Bill Lee's declaration of emergency [last] week and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke's executive order declaring a state of emergency as a result of the COVID-19 virus," Oglesby said. "We will work to stay in compliance with Tennessee open meeting laws and our city charter which requires meet twice a month, which have met by meeting on [March] 3 and 10."

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at staylor@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @sarahgtaylor.

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