Democrats in the Tennessee Senate asked Gov. Bill Lee to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order Monday to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
In a letter sent to Lee’s office, the Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus said that the “surge of coronavirus cases in our state has and will continue to put our doctors, nurses, and caregivers under great strain and threatens to thrust our medical system and healthcare supply chain toward a crisis point.”
Both Nashville Mayor John Cooper and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland issued “safer at home” orders for their cities Monday. The orders prohibit dining-it at restaurants, public gatherings, going to work unless providing essential services, visiting gyms, and having “non-essential visitors” over to a home.
“We join the bipartisan group of Tennessee mayors who have issued or advocated for ‘safer at home’ orders for their cities. More importantly, we urge your administration to heed the warnings of medical experts who have made clear Tennessee must go further,” the letter states.
As of today, the #COVID19 confirmed case count in TN is 615. We must do more to reduce the speed of the virus spread. Today, my Senate Democratic colleagues and I sent @GovBillLee a letter urging him to implement a statewide “safer at home” order. pic.twitter.com/yOdAQ561hK
— Sen. Sara Kyle (@SaraforTN) March 24, 2020
Senate Democrats said they have concerns about people with no health insurance, small business owners, and the unemployed, but told Lee that the “most immediate concern must be to reduce the number of new infections.”
“Governor, we want you to be successful. We need you to be successful. The people who we represent are counting on it. We implore you to move quickly with a statewide ‘safer at home’ order,” their letter concludes. “Tennesseans need and deserve clear and unequivocal guidance.”
Gov. Lee has thus far declined to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order, but said during a Monday press conference that “nothing is off the table.”
The governor has issued executive orders closing all K-12 public schools as well as bars, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation. He announced Monday that he has established a “COVID-19 Unified Command” to streamline the state’s response to the virus.
“The COVID-19 pandemic challenges every aspect of traditional government response in a crisis,” he said in a statement. “I have appointed the Unified Command to effectively change the way we attack COVID-19 in Tennessee as we work to simultaneously address health, economic and supply crises.”
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