NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Governor Bill Lee announced the creation of the ‘COVID-19 Unified Command’ on Monday afternoon.

The governor said this is a joint effort to streamline coordination across the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee Department of Military.

The team will coordinate department responses to COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 pandemic challenges every aspect of traditional government response in a crisis. I have appointed the Unified Command to effectively change the way we attack COVID-19 in Tennessee as we work to simultaneously address health, economic and supply crises.”

Governor Bill Lee

Gov. Lee signed an executive order to stop all non-emergency medical and dental procedures. Doctors are asked to donate their protective gear to the nearest National Guard armory.

“We are putting in place strategies for increasing our hospital beds, our hospital capacity.  Bringing more health care workers online.  This is going to be quite an effort for quite some time.  If we do this right, we can get through it in a way that minimizes the damage economically and from a health stand point,” explained Gov. Lee.

An estimated 2,000 face shields are currently being created using a 3-D printer at Austin Peay State University.

Doctors are asked to drop off any protective gear by April 13. Once the face shields are completed, they will be delivered directly to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

Commissioner Stuart McWhorter will lead the COVID-19 Unified Command. McWhorter appointed retired Brig. Gen. Scott Brower to serve as chief of staff for the operation.

“Gen. Brower’s special forces background and previous service as the Acting Senior Commander for the 101st Airborne Division has enabled him to pull leaders together and troubleshoot quickly in a crisis. Gov. Lee has urged our team to challenge every barrier and assembling this team is the first step.”

Commissioner Stuart McWhorter

The COVID-19 Unified Command also includes:

  • Patrick Sheehan, TEMA Director
  • Dr. Lisa Piercey, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Health
  • Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes, Adjutant General, Tennessee Department of Military