NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced he is limiting holiday gatherings to no one outside of families’ immediate households and all public indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people.
The governor made his remarks Sunday during a statewide address coming on the heels of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranking Tennessee the worst state in the country for new COVID-19 cases by population.
“We now have around 10,000 Tennesseans getting sick every day,” the governor said. “To put that in perspective, that’s three times where we were around Halloween. Thousands of our neighbors are in the hospital tonight. More than 100 people are dying each day.”
Gov. Lee described the state “ground zero” in the COVID-19 battle and urged Tennesseans not to gather with people outside their immediate households during the upcoming holidays.
Governor Lee asked Tennesseans to not hold indoor gatherings for the holidays that include anyone outside of your household, saying, “We must do all that we can to blunt this surge and keep more Tennesseans from getting sick.”
The governor also said he is signing an order that will limit indoor gatherings to 10 people. Business owners are also asked to let employees work from home for the next 30 days. If employees are not able to work from home, masks should be worn at all times.
In coordination with the TSSAA, attendance at indoor sporting events will also be limited.
The governor also said gathering around Thanksgiving and extended time indoors have been responsible for spreading COVID-19 “like wildfire”.
Despite stressing the importance of wearing a mask to combat the spread of COVID-19, the governor has yet to issue a statewide mask mandate even as cases continue to surge.
“Many think a statewide mandate would improve mask wearing; many think it would have the opposite effect. This has been a heavily politicized issue. Please do not get caught up in that and don’t misunderstand my belief in local government on this issue. Masks work and I want every Tennessean to wear one,” the governor said.
On Saturday, Governor Lee announced his wife Maria Lee tested positive for COVID-19. The First Lady tested positive for COVID-19 after experiencing mild symptoms of the virus. The governor said he doesn’t have any symptoms and tested negative Saturday night. However, as a precaution, he will be quarantining at the Governor’s Mansion.
On Sunday, the Tennessee Department of Health also held a media briefing on hospital capacity in Tennessee, saying hospitals won’t be able to keep up with another COVID-19 surge like we saw after the Thanksgiving holiday.