state of emergency

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)

Lee extends state of emergency until Aug. 29

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

Gov. Bill Lee is extending Tennessee’s state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic until Aug. 29.

Here’s the full release from the governor’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee today signed Executive Order No. 50 to extend the State of Emergency related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to August 29, 2020. The order allows the continued suspension of various laws and regulations and other measures in these orders to facilitate the treatment and containment of COVID-19 through regulatory flexibility, promoting social distancing and avoidance of large gatherings, and protecting vulnerable populations. 

Gov. Lee also signed Executive Order Nos. 51 and 52, which extend provisions that allow for electronic government meetings subject to transparency safeguards and remote notarization and witnessing of documents, respectively, to August 29, 2020.

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Lee signs executive order declaring state of emergency over coronavirus

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his second State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee has signed an executive order to declare Tennessee under a state of emergency to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s the full release from the governor’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Governor Bill Lee issued Executive Order No. 14 declaring a state of emergency in Tennessee to facilitate the treatment and containment of COVID-19.

“Today’s action will move us into position to utilize additional emergency funds as needed and relax provisions of certain laws to provide the flexibility needed to respond to this disease,” said Gov. Lee. “While the risk to the general public remains low, we encourage all Tennesseans to exercise caution and maintain good hygiene practices as there are serious risks to our vulnerable populations. We will continue to evaluate and adapt our position accordingly to fit what we believe is best for Tennesseans.”

Executive Order 14 declares a state of emergency to facilitate the treatment and containment of COVID-19.  To achieve these goals, the order:

  • Implements the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan;
  • Permits health care professionals licensed in other states to provide health care services in Tennessee related to COVID-19;
  • Allows pharmacists to dispense an extra 30-day supply of maintenance prescriptions as needed in response to COVID-19;
  • Allows health care professionals to provide localized treatment to patients in temporary residences;
  • Expands testing sites for COVID-19;
  • Allows the construction of temporary health care structures in response to COVID-19;
  • Implements price gouging protections on medical and emergency supplies;
  • Suspends restrictions on vehicles transporting emergency supplies to areas affected by COVID-19;
  • Permits the waiver of certain regulations on childcare centers as needed to respond to the effect of COVID-19;
  • Authorizes TennCare policy changes to ensure that covered individuals receive medically necessary services without disruption; and
  • Directs coordination with health insurance plans to improve access to screening, testing, and treatment for COVID-19.

Vulnerable populations should stay home where possible and avoid large gatherings or locations where they are more likely to contact the virus. Vulnerable populations include older adults and adults with underlying conditions like diabetes, heart disease and respiratory illness. Non-essential visits to nursing homes and hospitals are strongly discouraged.

The full text of Executive Order No. 14 can be found here.

Up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Tennessee can be found here.