NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Governor Bill Lee is putting an end to the COVID-19 State of Emergency put in place to actively respond to the pandemic.
The many months-long order is being praised by some, while others including doctors are left wondering where the leadership will now come from.
The retiring of the order establishes the idea that Tennessee is no longer facing a public health threat.
Governor Bill Lee took to Twitter to do what many in the state have been asking him to do.
He wrote, “I am not renewing the COVID-19 State of Emergency that expires tonight. For almost 20 months, this tool has provided deregulation and operational flexibility for hospitals and industries most affected by COVID’s challenges.”
Rep. John Ray Clemmons, a Nashville Democrat, says the governor isn’t following the facts.
“I think this is a political decision. Obviously, that’s not rooted in any of the data; we still have an ongoing issue with COVID-19.”
Speaker Cameron Sexton, who led a special session to do away with COVID restrictions and limit the governor’s emergency power, expressed his support.
“Appreciate Gov. Lee steady leadership & agree it’s time to end the State of Emergency. Tennessee was one of the first to successfully reopen, & we remain a national economic leader,” the Speaker tweeted.
“But the reality is Governor Bill Lee didn’t use the State of Emergency for much more than entering in to no-bid contracts, so I think your average Tennessean is not going to see much of a change because Bill Lee really didn’t do anything,” Clemmons said.
The order extended and changed over the course of the pandemic and suspended certain laws to provide support and direction to dealing with COVID-19.
Lee added, “Should our state face any future surges, we will consider temporarily reinstating this tool.”
Over 16,700 Tennesseans have died of COVID-19. Less than 50 percent of people in the state are fully vaccinated.
“The best thing that we can all do as Tennesseans is get vaccinated. If you want the real State of Emergency to end, it is to improve vaccination rates across Tennessee,” Clemmons said.
New state law restricts State of Emergencies to just 45 days, down from the original 60.