Governor Bill Lee has officially extended the state of emergency for the remainder of 2020.
The executive order followed Lee’s own quarantine due to exposure from the coronavirus. The extension of the order means that Tennessee will receive further federal funding, mayors can continue to implement their own guidelines, and government officials can continue to meet virtually.
Additionally, the governor commended the county mayors that have or will implement mask mandates.
“Due to the surge in cases, a number of county mayors, many in the last several days have implemented mask requirements in their communities,” he said. “Many are considering it, we’ve had a lot of conversations with those mayors. As of now, about 62 percent of our population is under a mask requirement.”
Tennessee hospital spokesperson, Dr. Wendy Long, stated that hospitalizations are increasing at an “alarming rate” across the state. Long attributed the case rate and hospitalization reduction that occurred earlier this summer to Tennesseans that “buckled down and masked up.”
Long warned that the flu cases compounded with COVID-19 cases would lead to “statewide [hospital] capacity issues.” As such, the doctor recommended that individuals wear a mask, social distance, and receive a flu shot.
Lee added that the state will continue its pop-up testing facilities into election week. Two federal programs covering pandemic unemployment assistance and pandemic emergency unemployment compensation will continue until December 26. However, the government’s team encouraged individuals to return to work.
Tennessee’s vaccine plan is still in its drafting stages. Certain classes of citizens will receive the first rounds of vaccinations, including the elderly, first responders, and prison systems.
The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) announced Friday that the state’s national electronic disease surveillance system will be down on the weekend prior to Election Day. The system shutdown will hinder COVID-19 case data updates, but won’t prevent individuals from receiving their test results.
Spokespersons for the governor didn’t respond to inquiries regarding the future possibility of implementing a statewide mask mandate.
Tennessee’s state of emergency is scheduled to expire December 29.
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