brent easley

Quarantine camps? Governor’s top lobbyist dispels myths about executive order

Gov. Bill Lee speaks in the Old Supreme Court Chamber of the state Capitol in Nashville on March 22, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee’s top legialtive lobbyist, Brent Easley, has written a letter to lawmakers seeking to dispel what he called conspiracy theories about an executive order authorizing the Tennessee National Guard to continue to help giving COVID-19 vaccines and tests.

Read the whole thing in all its glory below:

Importance: High


Over the past few days, a number of you have reached out seeking information for your constituents as they have contacted you regarding several conspiracy theories that are unfortunately being shared as fact. These rumors distort Executive Order 83 that was signed on Friday, and we wanted to provide you with some additional information as you craft responses.

Five of the most frequently shared items that have been relayed to our offices are…

— The EO creates “quarantine camps” – FALSE.

— Tennesseans serving in the National Guard will be used to round up citizens that are unvaccinated and take them to locations to be quarantined or vaccinated – FALSE.

— Tennesseans serving in the National Guard will be coming to forcibly vaccinate citizens in their homes – FALSE – This is specifically prohibited by state law as well.

— This executive order is laying the groundwork for permanent lockdowns – FALSE.

— That Covid-19 vaccines are being given to livestock so it will enter the -food supply to vaccinate citizens through their meat consumption – FALSE.

All of these examples, and related rumors, are demonstrably false. Additionally, Tennesseans who serve in our National Guard have faithfully served their communities in many capacities this year and we are grateful that they remain committed to serving their neighbors.

Below are some of the key components of that Executive Order that are most frequently being misinterpreted. All of these items were included in previous EOs as well.

Section 8 allows members of the Tennessee National Guard to continue supporting our state’s response to Covid-19 in ways like administering tests, helping with voluntary vaccine distribution or driving ambulances if there is a shortage of qualified drivers. It is critical that we allow the flexibility for our National Guard members to lean in whenever a need is identified.

Section 14 allows for telehealth assessments with regard to existing mental health commitment procedures. There is no expansion or substantive change to existing mental health law processes and protections.

Section 18 is related to healthcare facility policies, and provides flexibility for hospitals to set up alternate care sites on their grounds such as tents in parking lots or use of a conference room to treat patients. This flexibility was included so that medical facilities can have this tool in their toolbox if extra space is needed.

We are responding to constituents who reach out with concerns and hope you will join us in sharing the facts. If you have additional questions on these items, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or anyone on my team.

Brent Easley


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