Is the ‘party over’ for Gov. Bill Lee?

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a press conference on Tennessee’s coronavirus response in Nashville on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Just weeks ago, Gov. Bill Lee and fellow Republicans who run the General Assembly were arguing about where to stash overflowing tax revenues. Everything has changed since the economic impact of the coronavirus has started coming into focus.

The governor has come under increasing pressure over his decision not to order a statewide shelter-in-place order — he’s instead left it to mayors in the state’s largest cities to issue their own guidance.

The Daily Memphian‘s Sam Stockard is positing that the “party’s over” for the new Lee administration as it grapples with the new realities:

While Lee and his new COVID-19 Unified Command have been working overtime amid a state of emergency and executive orders to provide financial support and stem the spread of a hardcore bug that isn’t even alive, some lawmakers say the state’s response has been scattered, at best, sending mixed messages to the public.

Physicians, meanwhile, call Lee “weak” on leadership for refusing to join about 20 other governors in declaring a statewide “safer at home” order to quell the severity of the pandemic.

Lee and other Republican leaders acknowledge the situation is “liquid” and that strategies can change daily, if not hourly, based on the latest information.

Read the rest of the article here.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe looks into the blue/red divide when it comes to responding to the pandemic. The paper looked at the city of Bristol, which is famously divided between Virginia and Tennessee.

It was Saturday night on a main street in the South, but locals described something odd: One side of the street was almost normal, if quiet, with restaurants serving dinner and groups of young people milling around. The other side of the street looked practically vacant.

“There was no foot traffic on the left side,” recalled business owner Janet Atwell, 51.

Both sides of State Street are in cities called Bristol, but the left side is Virginia, the right side is Tennessee and the yellow line down the middle of the road is both a state border and a new frontier in this country’s uneven response to the coronavirus outbreak that often is breaking down along partisan lines.

The different scenes on either side of the pavement reflected the differing pace of the two state’s governors as they seek to contain the pandemic. On that Saturday night on March 21, Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia, a Democrat, had established stricter limits on public gatherings than Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee, a Republican. Since then, both governors have banned dining inside restaurants and public gatherings of more than 10 people, but Northam has ordered a larger swath of nonessential businesses to close.

Read the full article here.

26 Responses to Is the ‘party over’ for Gov. Bill Lee?

  • James White says:

    The TN constitution and the US constitution does not allow shelter in place orders from anyone.

  • Lance Persson says:

    … Saying that physicians call him weak is a totally irresponsible statement. It makes it sound like the majority of physicians feel that way and that may not be the case. Right now it is politically correct to go along with the “Chicken Little” panic and proclaim that the sky is falling and that doom lies ahead. My private conversations with those in the medical center do not support that fear. The Corona Virus is something we all need to be concerned about but not something we need to panic about. Many of the casualties that I have read about are the elderly or have other serious health issues. It is likely that they would have had the same results if they had gotten a bad case of the flu.
    … It is my understanding that the likelyhood of dying soley from getting the Coronavirus is low. Almost all healthy people who get the virus fully recover. It is serious, we should take all reasonable precautions for stopping its spread, but it is not serious enough to destroy our economy, put so many people out of work and cause financial stress in so many families.
    … I am sure that many will disagree with me. If they do, I hope they will have the decency to disagree based on factual data, not just their emotional feelings. They should include complete data as to the age and condition of those who have died based on their age and whether or not they had any other health issues. They should compare the number of Coronavirus deaths to those who have died each year from the other flu viruses that have plagued the public each year.
    … To attack our governor on such flimsy emotional statements is irresponsible and apparently done for political purposes. There was a recent cartoon in our local paper in which one person was carrying a sign that said “Give the people what I want”. That seems to be the motivation of many politicians. From what I have seen, our governor makes his decisions on what he feels is in the best interests of ALL the people in Tennessee. That is the way it should be.

    • MARLE says:

      Asking comments here to be based on data would be a standard higher than WH briefings demand.

      The White House medical “experts” are not even giving specific information on who, by profile, is dying. Dr Birx has been dribbling out selective data on the “young dying in increasing numbers”. Nothing more; just THAT. And she is getting the highest praise. How on earth does a medical professional do that? Giving half-truth “data” , esp in a crisis, is tantamount to professional malfeasance.

      I hope that the WH briefing transcripts, from day 1 through the lifting of national emergency, will be published in full so the public can clearly see WHO said WHAT throughout this ordeal.

    • James White says:

      “but it is not serious enough to destroy our economy, ” Lance is correct, AND your TN congressmen (house and senate) ALL voted FOR the staggering $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package.

      • Eddie White says:

        I’m glad they did. I am going to send a contribution to the Republican primary challenger of the idiot in Kentucky who tried to delay the stimulus vote.

    • Beatrice Shaw says:

      Lance… are a kool aide drinker

    • Bob Fischer says:

      You know damn good and well the governor is suppressing the data so the press and general public cannot keep track of this disease in real time. He is no longer reporting deaths and county reports.

      And the right wing nut jobs to not get to be the argument umpires in charge of what is and isn’t relevant. We all know it hasn’t hit and we know that Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia all have taken action to keep the infected people of Tennessee from crossing state lines. We don’t have the equipment, personnel, nor hospital space to handle the spike Lee is building. It will crush our healthcare system.

      Taking various death rates from different wats of handling this disease projects to us having a 2-6% mortality rate. We stand to easily lose 25,000 people, particularly if Governor Lee continues to push policy to increase the rate of infection. The idea is to keep the original infection rate down, to flatten the curve, so to speak. The governor is doing the opposite.

    • Mack says:

      Cold hearted;

      “Many of the casualties that I have read about are the elderly or have other serious health issues. It is likely that they would have had the same results if they had gotten a bad case of the flu.

    • William Johnson says:

      Well said Lance! Use common-sense measures and live your life. Those enacting fear based measures are doing so out of selfish political motives. There’s no telling how many more tragedies are in store by the desperate Socialist Democrat Party. Anyone who believes this pandemic happened by accident is either dead, dumb, or blind.

  • Norma Shirk says:

    The TN governor tracks his popularity ratings; not what’s best for all fair citizens in TN. If he cared about ALL citizens, he’d be listening to scientific & medical authorities who say that healthy people will most likely survive the virus….but are carriers infecting the less healthy increasing the risk to the most vulnerable people in our population. He also wouldn’t have continued the Legislature’s misguided hatchet attacks on social welfare programs for the people who now have no jobs and no social safety net. Democracy is about how the powerful treat the weak. On all counts TN’s governor & Legislature are a failing grade.

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      “. . .no social safety net. . .” in a country that spends billions on an insane array of programs devoted to help those on the dole. Crazy me, I always thought that democracy is a form of government in which ultimate power is in the people living under that government to elect that government through periodically held free elections. Apparently not to liberals like Norma, who think “democracy” is just some sort of system where a majority steals resources earned by the minority in order to satisfy their insatiable need to feel virtuous. Oh how I pray that these liberal authoritarians never gain power in this state outside of our liberal ghettos.

      • MARLE says:

        Well if Republicans keep on this path of destruction of the economy there won’t be anything left for liberals or anyone else TO STEAL

  • MARLE says:

    Dr Fauci, Dr Birx both heralded by the White House for their brilliance have often mentioned the Spanish Flu of 1918 in connection with Covid. Scary and Deadly…… No mention of the differences of demographics, health care capabilities, life expectancy (our elderly, thru modern medicine, are living for decades in a compromised condition ). Totally irresponsible comparison of these 2 epidemics yet the “brilliant” people were praised for doing so.

    Apparently in America we are playing a game of poker seeing someone’s panic and raising them a hyperbolic

  • Bob Fischer says:

    There are 179 cases in Sumner County that haven’t made it to the caseboard. Lee is nothing but a con artist.

    • MARLE says:

      This virus has been in the US since January. How do these numbers compare to the Annual flu in 2018 the last yr for which we have complete data?

      • Bob Fischer says:

        You can’t due a real comparison until this plays out. The corona virus is about 25 times as deadly and much more easily transmitted. That’s what we know now. That, and we are unprepared in Tennessee for what will hit our hospitals.

        • MARLE says:

          25 times more deadly. The regular flu killed, in just the US, 70 thousand in 2018. This will have to kill 1Million, 750 Thousand in the US. Are you insane?

          • Bob Fischer says:

            Which means the real key here is how many people catch it. I’m just reading the numbers.

        • Donna Locke says:

          Bob, you are right that this is a more lethal virus. My husband’s nephew is a cardiologist and told us the word coming to them is that the situation is and will be quite bad. I never got up one morning during any flu season and found out that Joe Diffie, for example, had died of a virus. Take precautions. Do what you can for others. Don’t obsess.

  • SVEN says:

    It’s pretty simple to me: If you oppose restrictions in favor of more freedom and a stronger economy then add a coda that if you are stricken with Covid19 you agree to be last in line for treatment.

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