NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Governor Bill Lee is ending nearly all statewide public health orders and he’s preventing local authorities from issuing anymore mask mandates.
The announcement Tuesday marks another milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 is now a managed public health issue,” Governor Bill Lee said.
Lee added that Tennessee is no longer in a public health crisis, and he’s allowing his final COVID-19 executive order to expire.
“Above all else Tennesseans have embraced the idea of personal responsibility,” he said.
Executive Order 80 in part removes the local authority for county mayors in 89 counties to require face coverings. He’s encouraged the remaining counties to end masking by the end of May.
The order also instructs the Tennessee Department of Health to provide walk up COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Vaccine has become a reality, it has been made available to everyone who wants it,” Lee said.
However, Democrats say he’s not doing enough to inform Tennesseans of vaccinations.
“We all know that the pandemic is not over,” Nashville Democrat Rep. Vincent Dixie said. “This is just another example of reactionary and falling to political pressure, Tennessee is 47 out of 50 states in vaccination… 47 out of 50.”
Dixie adds that there’s more that can be done. “The effort that he’s going to trying to reopen the economy and get everybody back to work and remove all of these masks mandates, that’s the same effort that needs to go back in to making sure people get vaccinated.”
For weeks, Governor Lee said the Department of Health has been working on a marketing campaign to increase awareness of the vaccines, something that still has not been produced.
“It will be starting soon, I don’t have the exact date of that, but that campaign is being developed right now,” Lee said.
Governor Lee is fully vaccinated with Pfizer, despite not publicizing his COVID-19 shots.
Tennessee’s State of Emergency is still ongoing to meet certain federal and ongoing regulations, and to obtain federal funding.