State Watch

Tennessee governor issues stay-at-home order

Tennessee has become the latest state to issue a stay-at-home order for its residents as the U.S. attempts to stem the spread of COVID-19.

“Over the last few weeks, we have seen decreases in movement around the state as Tennesseans socially distance and stay at home,” Gov. Bill Lee (R) said in a statement on Thursday. “However, in recent days we have seen data indicating that movement may be increasing and we must get these numbers trending back down. I have updated my previous executive order to clearly require that Tennesseans stay at home unless they are carrying out essential activities.”

On Monday Lee issued a two-week “safer at home” order that required nonessential businesses to close and urged residents to stay home, which he noted “is not a mandated ‘shelter in place’ order, because it remains deeply important to me to protect personal liberties.”

Thursday’s executive order mandates residents stay home, similar to orders that have been issued in most U.S. states.

The governor said his administration used traffic and cellphone mobility data to determine residents weren’t complying with the initial order at the levels needed to contain the virus.

“The month of April stands to be an extremely tough time for our state as we face the potential for a surge in COVID-19 cases,” Lee said. “Every Tennessean must take this seriously, remain at home and ensure we save lives.”

The governor’s shift to a more aggressive order comes the same day he told lawmakers that the state is projecting a shortage in ventilators and hospital beds and is preparing to use college dormitories, convention centers and hotels as hospitals take in more patients, according to The Tennessean.

As of Thursday the state has reported 2,800 confirmed cases of the virus and 32 deaths. The governor’s order is in place until April 14.

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