Governor Lee issues executive order to allow National Guard to enter hospitals, assist with COVID-19 response


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has signed an executive order aimed at expanding COVID-19 health care resources and capacity in hospitals.

On Friday, Governor Lee signed Executive Order 68, which will allow National Guard members to enter Tennessee hospitals to assist with COVID-19 response.

The order states in part: “Medical professional staffing flexibility is permitted pursuant to an approved plan to relieve the capacity strain on certain staffing functions. In order to relieve the capacity strain on bedside care and support resulting from staffing shortages
(nurses, respiratory therapists, etc.), additional temporary regulatory flexibility
measures are necessary to cope with the emergency.”

This comes as hospitals across the state report growing numbers of COVID-19 patients, some of whom are presenting more severe symptoms than doctors have seen in the past. This strain is especially being felt in rural hospitals.

Specifically, the order states guard members will be able to perform COVID-19 tests, authorized nursing functions, and operate ambulances.

“The governor is committed to reducing regulatory barriers to help Tennessee hospitals manage capacity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that’s what today’s executive order will help accomplish,” governor press secretary Gillum Ferguson told News 2 in a statement. “This is in addition to $51 million from the Department of Health in hospital staffing assistance grants available to hospitals for them to hire additional workers.”

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