Memphis congressman asks Tennessee, neighboring states to issue shelter-in-place orders

Memphis congressman asks Tennessee, neighboring states to issue shelter-in-place orders
© Greg Nash

Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenTim Ryan: Prosecutors reviewing video of Capitol tours given by lawmakers before riot House subcommittee debates reparations bill for Black Americans House Democrats renew push for checks on presidential pardons MORE, a Democrat representing Memphis, Tenn., sent letters to the governor of his state and the neighboring states of Mississippi and Arkansas urging them to issue mandatory shelter-in-place orders to help keep Memphis’s health care facilities from becoming overwhelmed by coronavirus patients. 

“I write today to urgently request you issue mandatory shelter-in-place orders for your state and prohibit gatherings of more than ten people,” Cohen wrote in the letters to GOP Govs. Bill Lee, of Tennessee, Tate Reeves, of Mississippi, and Asa HutchinsonAsa HutchinsonTrump to attend private RNC donor retreat The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Tanden's odds plummet to lead OMB Former Trump officials eye bids for political office MORE, of Arkansas.

“I am proud to represent the Ninth District of Tennessee that connects our three states, but I fear that, without these preventative measures, it will become a hub of illness that will quickly overcome Memphis’s health care facilities,” Cohen added


Cohen said that Memphis is home to several “state of the art hospitals,” and that there is a lack of regional hospital access across state lines. He warned that citizens from Arkansas and Mississippi regularly travel to Memphis for medical care and “will do the same should they fall ill with COVID-19.” 

“To continue to allow residents of Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi to travel freely around their states and across state lines protects no one and puts lives at risk,” he wrote. 

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris have already issued stay-at-home orders for their city and county, but Lee has yet to issue such an order statewide. 


Lee issued a two-week “safer at home” order Monday which closed all nonessential businesses, but emphasized that the order is not a mandate.

"This is not a mandated 'shelter in place' order, because it remains deeply important to me to protect personal liberties,” Lee said, according to the Tennessean

Arkansas and Mississippi have also not yet implemented statewide stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic.