Pressure mounts on Lee to issue statewide stay-at-home order

Gov. Bill Lee arrives for a press conference on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

With 71 of 95 Tennessee counties reporting confirmed coronavirus cases, the pressure is building on Gov. Bill Lee to declare a statewide stay-at-home order.

Lee has recommended that schools remain shut through April 24, banned statewide gatherings of more than 10 people, and required bars and restaurants to limit their business to takeout and delivery service. But while cities like Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, and Chattanooga have told non-essential businesses to shutter amid the pandemic, Lee has declined to follow suit for the rest of the state.

That has set up a situation where businesses are closed inside the city and county lines where state-at-home orders are in place, but their counterparts can operate as normal if they are located just beyond those jurisdictions.

“Tennesseans have shut down,” Lee said at a press conference in Memphis on Friday. “This state is largely closed down except for the number of folks that are moving around for the appropriate reasons.”

But Lee acknowledged “that’s not true of every Tennessean.”

The state got some negative publicity when Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, urged residents living near the state line not to venture into Tennessee.

“If you are a Kentuckian living on that border, I need you to not go to Tennessee for anything other than work or helping a loved one or maybe the grocery, if it is there closer. If you ultimately go down over that border and go to a restaurant or something that’s not open in Kentucky, what you do is you bring back the coronavirus here in Kentucky,” Beshear said. “And again the sacrifice that the people inside your county are making, ultimately you don’t honor by doing that.”

Critics noted that Tennessee not only has a larger population, but that the state has conducted far more coronavirus tests than Kentucky. And infection rates are similar.

20 Responses to Pressure mounts on Lee to issue statewide stay-at-home order

  • Avatar
    MARLE says:

    Pandemic Poker strategy: I’ll see your panic and raise you a hyperbolic.

    • Avatar
      John says:

      Chris Walker is Bill Lee’s spin doctor, not a medical doctor. Let’s hear from the Chief Medical Officer and other professionals at the Department of Health who are being silenced by their politically appointed commissioner.

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    steve cates says:

    This is so dangerous. WHY WON’T HE ACT? In God’s name, he claims to be a “christian” and is leaving so many of us as sitting ducks. Despite what he says, “Tennesseans have ” NOT “shut down”!!! It’s evident all around me here in Murfreesboro and Rutherford Co. Why can’t I have a strong governor, county mayor and city mayor? I see them elsewhere and it makes me so envious. It’s bad enough to have such an ineffective president.

    • Avatar
      James White says:

      Lee and Trump swore an oath to uphold the constitution. Amendment #1, … freedom to assemble….

      • Avatar
        Eddie White says:

        The courts have long upheld the government’s right to restrict the freedom to assemble. Why to do you think you have to get a permit to protest?

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Envy no more Steve!!! When this Chinese virus lock down dissipates once again there are planes leaving many times a day from Nashville International for such garden spots like New York, California, Michigan where you can live under the “. . .strong governor, county major and city mayor” envy. You might, however, find the airports at those cities a little crowded steve with all the productive taxpaying residents desperate to leave those very places. And please don’t worry about the inconvenience of moving. I know for a fact that there will be no shortage of your conservative neighbors in Murfreesboro and Rutherford County and even over in Williamson County who would LOVE to help you and anyone with your depressing mentality of dependency pack.

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        MARLE says:

        It seems to me Stuart that a lot of the people fleeing NY, NJ and surrounds Are or Were Democrat voters and contributors. Now that they are reaping what they sowed…..now they want out.
        Stick around an pay the piper.

        And this goes twice for state employees who voted for every politician who would raise their taxes BUT simultaneously raise Their salaries (and commensurate retirement benefits). Now they are rushing, benefit/pension checks in hand, to Florida and other no-income states.

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          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          That’s why our homegrown Tennessee liberals are such cool people. They get to strike the “right” poses, have the “right” attitudes, speak the English language in just the “right” way, be “troubled” by just the “right” things but they are smart enough not to actually live in some hell-hole governed by their fellow liberals. Ah, to be a member of the bien pensant while keeping your butt safe and sound in good ole conservative Tennessee.

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            MARLE says:

            Those who vote to make it a hell hole should stay there through their retirement years ( a pension is just the accumulation of salary + appreciation accumulated while you lived in and voted for the hell hole politicians) and pay the taxes they set in motion.

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          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          Indeed, that’s why I cringe every time a Tennessee governor is “successful” in attracting an AllianceBernstein down here as part of the exodus from liberal governed areas. Having been born and raised in a very liberal community, by the time I was half-way through high school I concluded that a liberal community is one miserable place to live if you want to accomplish anything other than living a totally hedonistic life. My concern is that all too many refugees from such communities have never learned that lesson so they carry with them the bacillus of left-wing politics to Tennessee. Hell with quarantining them and giving them a Chinese virus test, I think we should quarantine them and give them a liberal bacillus test before letting them call Tennessee home.

          • Avatar
            MARLE says:

            My concern is that these people who sow the seeds of destruction get to jump ship and we applaud them. They are the worst of the worst.

    • Avatar
      MARLE says:

      Steve can you explain why you are a sitting duck? If you stay Inside your home what reasonable level (you realize life has a degree of risk) risk do you have?

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    James White says:

    Me thinks the media protests too much. It seems the media are pushing more than anyone, where are the on the seasonal flue deaths? the Malaria deaths? the Suicides? the traffic deaths? the HIV/AID deaths? the Alcohol/Drug deaths? Hunger? Abortion:? All are 10/100/and perhaps 1000’s time more than the current coronavirus.

  • If Gov. Lee has erred, it has been on the side of too much caution, not too little. I would urge him to reconsider his guidance that has forced gyms to close. They are an important part of thousands of Tennesseans’ exercise regime, particularly senior citizens who exercise in part to help strengthen their immune systems. Exercise is an important part of the defense against viruses. Gyms can practice social distancing measures as easily as food stores and many others that remain open. I believe it has been uniquely counter-productive to close private and not-for-profit gyms.

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Good gosh how we miss that “Ralph Bristol Show” as it was originally conceived and aired during the first years of your program. Hope you are doing well. The market is down – cash is trash!

  • Avatar
    Pete says:

    “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”
    -Thomas Jefferson

    I’m not sure what everyone is thinking here but overall, shutting down our economy will lead to high levels of unemployment… (already know several people who have lost their jobs and don’t know what to do next ) The likes we have never seen and will cause all kinds of downstream problems including strained relationships, divorce, hunger, further deaths … More than this virus will on its own. Please publish the 2020 influenza hospitalizations and deaths as it far surpasses anything this virus has accomplished…. no pandemonium there. In fact, let’s test everyone that has a cold or a flu symptoms and publish it across the states… No one will want to go anywhere ever again because it’s all around us all of the time. Our bodies will adapt.

    • Avatar
      MARLE says:

      The elderly or immune-compromised use total isolation to keep themselves 100% safe. Others opt for exposure taking tons of precautions until a vaccine is developed (but no flu vaccine has more than about 55% effectiveness in those above 60 and much less in those over 80).

      The rest go about your lives just as you do with the annual flu even though it kills in the 10’s of thousands.

  • Leave the Great State of Tennessee open!

  • Avatar
    Dave McGuire says:

    Hopefully hysteria doesn’t define Lee’s term as governor.

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