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 CohenOmar leads lawmakers in calling for US envoy to combat Islamophobia Trump says being impeached twice didn't change him: 'I became worse' Five big questions about the Jan. 6 select committee 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 HutchinsonDozens of Republican governors call for meeting with Biden on border surge The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Biden's .5 trillion plan will likely have to shrink Sunday shows - Manchin says he won't vote for .5 trillion bill 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

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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. 

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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.