Lee to let state of emergency expire nearly 7 months after declaring end of public health crisis

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters outside the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee in April declared COVID-19 no longer presented a public health crisis in Tennessee. Now, 206 days later, Lee is announcing he won’t renew a state of emergency related to the pandemic when it expires Friday night.

Here’s the statement from the governor:

For almost 20 months, this tool has provided deregulation and operational flexibility for hospitals and industries most affected by COVID’s challenges. Should our state face any future surges, we will consider temporarily reinstating this tool, but in the meantime, we are evaluating opportunities for permanent deregulation.”

Since the governor’s springtime announcement, Tennessee experienced a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations due to the spread of the delta variant. But the state’s numbers have eased in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles, a potential Republican primary challenger to Lee’s re-election bid next year, issued his own state of emergency in an effort to “secure the liberties” of health care workers who don’t want to adhere to vaccination mandates, The Daily Herald of Columbia reported.

Ogles was joined in his Facebook announcement by state Reps. Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka), Brandon Ogles (R-Franklin), Clay Doggett (R-Pulaski), and Todd Warner (R-Chapel Hill).

(Image credit: Screengrab from Facebook Live)