Memphis congressman asks Tennessee, neighboring states to issue shelter-in-place orders
Rep. Steve Cohen, 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 Hutchinson, 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.
I also sent letters to the Governors of #Mississippi & #Arkansas, requesting that they establish mandatory shelter-in-place orders. Residents in both states rely on medical facilities in #Memphis. We need to work together to #FlattenTheCurve. #COVID19https://t.co/02bMdYqAUL
— Steve Cohen (@RepCohen) March 31, 2020
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.
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