$2-3 billion dollars likely headed to TN for COVID-19 response, but governor resists “shelter at home” order


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee Governor Bill Lee says $2-3 billion dollars is likely headed to Tennessee from a federal COVID-19 relief package, but he’s still resisting calls for a statewide “shelter at home” policy.

The comments, against the backdrop of “unprecedented” unemployment claims of 39,000-plus filed last week in Tennessee, came during what has been a Monday through Friday daily update on state efforts to deal with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

“What is going to slow the spread of this virus is the people of Tennessee taking individual responsibility,” the governor said to begin his briefing. “If you own a restaurant out there and you are trying to get away with serving people in a dining room, it matters that you are still doing that.”

He made a similar plea to churches, especially in rural areas, to find a “way to work worship other than just crowding into together…it matters.”

The governor then outlined a new public service campaign with well-known Tennesseans urging fellow citizens to “do your part, stay apart.”

The governor later defended not ordering a statewide “shelter at home” policy as urged by more than 22,000 doctors, nurses and everyday Tennesseans in an online petition  

“There is not a one size fits all,” maintained the governor as he referenced most of Tennessee’s COVID-19 cases being in denser urban areas instead of the rural part of the state. “We are encouraging people to stay at home at every turn. At the end of the day, Tennesseans are going to have to take personal responsibility to protect the life and the health of their neighbors.”

Governor Lee added that around 50-percent of Tennesseans are under local government “stay at home orders.”

As for the “unprecedented” weekly jobless numbers that reflect the shutdown of hotels, restaurants, and bars statewide, Lee said he expects “those numbers to grow” while touting efforts called “Tennessee talent exchange” to match those jobless with companies looking for workers.

Lee went on to say there would be help worth “2-3 billion dollars” for Tennessee in the federal relief package “likely within a few weeks” with things like grants for small businesses and checks for individuals who have been impacted by COVID-19.

On yet another front, the governor said he signed Executive Orders 20 which does a variety of things related to COVID-19 healthcare.

  • Loosens restrictions around retired medical professionals to help get qualified individuals back in the workforce.
  • Temporarily suspends continuing education requirements so professionals can continue working through the pandemic.
  • Calls for the availability of phone assessments for individuals with mental illness or emotional disturbances.
  • Expands telemedicine efforts so that all licensed providers may utilize telemedicine during COVID-19 as long as they are practicing within their normal scope of practice.

More information can be found on the Governor’s website.

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