At least 2,000 health care workers have signed a petition asking Gov. Bill Lee to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
As of Friday afternoon, the petition had close to 25,000 signatures, including the signatures of more than 2,000 health care workers, according to Dr. Aaron Milstone, a pulmonary and critical care specialist who started the petition.
“Gov. Lee’s continued refusal to issue a stay-at-home order has really allowed things to get a lot worse here in Tennessee when we really should have been preparing,” Milstone said during an interview this week on MSNBC, saying Lee has demonstrated “weak leadership.”
“If you take those conservative models and follow what Lee is doing currently, 40,000 Tennesseans potentially may die of this virus. If we issue a stay-at-home here in the state of Tennessee, I can take that number down at least ten fold,” he added.
The Tennessee Medical Association sent the petition to all of its members and invited them to add their signatures.
“In the absence of aggressive testing and tracking positive patients and contacts (which we are not doing yet), restricting activities and movement of people is the best weapon we have to slow virus,” said the TMA. “While no one is proposing a total lockdown in the USA, anything that will restrict people from gathering and meeting will likely slow the spread significantly.”
In one video, Milstone said Gov. Lee’s “failure to do what is right betrays the nurses and doctors fighting this pandemic.”
Milstone and several of his colleagues sent a letter to Lee’s office last week asking him to issue a shelter-in-place order. As of Friday, 23 states and one U.S. territory had told their residents to stay home, according to The New York Times.
“It is our estimation that we have little time to ‘flatten the curve’ on the current situation. China and South Korea have made great progress by imposing restrictive measures. We ask that Tennessee do the same,” said the letter.
Several cities across Tennessee have issued their own shelter-in-place orders, including both Memphis and Nashville. Lee said Thursday that he hasn’t ruled out a shelter-in-place order, but doesn’t think it is the right time to issue one.
The governor launched a new “do your part, stay apart” campaign Thursday with the help of several Nashville celebrities.
As of Friday afternoon, Tennessee had 1,203 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 103 hospitalizations, and six deaths.
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