BY SABRINA BATES
TENNESSEE (December 21) – As the number of positive COVID-19 cases show a steady incline for the last three weeks, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is urging citizens to restrict indoor gatherings across the state to 10 or fewer people as he enacted another statewide Executive Order pertaining to the global health pandemic.
In his address Sunday evening, Lee said Tennessee is known as “ground zero” for the surge in COVID-related sicknesses. His wife, First Lady Maria, recently tested positive for the novel coronavirus. While the governor did not issue a mask mandate and left it up to leaders in individual counties to order the wearing of masks in public spaces, Lee ordered the limiting of social gatherings, including sporting events and urged employers to allow personnel to work from home for the next 30 days, to help diminish the strain on the already-taxed health care system. Lee noted in his address the record number of hospitalizations and positive cases prompted Executive Order #70, which remains in effect in Tennessee through 11:59 p.m., January 19, 2021.
“We now have around 10,000 Tennesseans getting sick every day. To put that in perspective, that’s three times where we were around Halloween. Thousands of our neighbors are in the hospital tonight. More than 100 people are dying each day. We are in a war. With the arrivals of the first vaccine, we have launched an offensive that will end this war. But it is the next few weeks that is going to be the most critical for our state,” Lee said.
“Right now, 70 percent of Tennesseans are under a mask requirement. I commend the local officials who have implemented mask requirements. Because of that, 80 percent of Tennesseans report they wear their masks most or all of the time and I thank them for doing this. We need them to continue and the remaining 20 percent to wear a mask and protect their health. Many think a statewide mandate would improve mask wearing, many think it would have the opposite effect. This has been a heavily politicized issue. Please do not get caught up in that and don’t misunderstand my belief in local government on this issue. Masks work and I want every Tennessean to wear one. Tennesseans have two weapons that they must use in the next 30 days: only gather with your household and wear a mask,” the governor added.
West Tennessee Healthcare and Baptist systems announced last week shipments of the first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are making their way to hospitals and clinics for healthcare providers. West Tennessee Healthcare Volunteer Hospital in Martin began vaccinating its frontline workers this week.
As of Monday, December 21, 2020, four counties in Northwest Tennessee remain above the 300-plus COVID-19 positive case mark.
In Weakley County, there were reportedly 387 active cases, 40 COVID-19-related deaths and 2,853 total cases since numbers for the pandemic were recorded in March.
Neighboring Obion County had 375 positive cases listed, 67 COVID-related deaths and 3,403 total cases.
Carroll County reported 352 active cases on Monday, 46 COVID-related deaths and 2,477 total cases.
In Henry County, positive cases were recorded at 310 with 32 COVID-related deaths and 2,167 total cases.
Weakley County is under a public mask mandate through December 29, 2020.