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Gov. Bill Lee orders Tennesseans to stay at home as state continues to fight spread of coronavirus

From Knox News -

Governor Bill Lee - Knox News

Days after issuing an executive order urging Tennesseans to stay at home amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Bill Lee will now mandate the action.

Gillum Ferguson, the governor's spokesman stated that the governor's office said he would be signing an executive order and it would be effective immediately. It will last through at least April 14.

Governor Lee said the mandate was necessary because there was clear evidence from vehicle traffic and cell phone data that some residents were beginning to disregard his earlier safer at home order, calling such actions dangerous.

“I want to take a moment to speak directly to every Tennessean,” Lee said during a daily news conference Thursday. “April stands to be a very tough month for our state. COVID-19 is an imminent threat and we need you to understand that staying home isn’t an option. It’s a requirement for the swift defeat of COVID-19 in Tennessee.”

The governor's move comes after a growing chorus of Tennesseans and doctors, including most recently former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist, urged Lee to move beyond his recent so-called "safer at home" order. Lee said he issued the mandate after having conversations with many in the medical community, including Frist.

The governor's decision comes one day after similar moves were made in other southern states, including Mississippi and Florida. Those states issued such mandates on Wednesday, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis citing President Donald Trump's "changed demeanor" related to the pandemic.

As of Thursday April 2, 2020, state officials reported 2,800 residents had been infected by COVID-19, with 32 fatalities and 263 hospitalizations.

The governor also identified facilities throughout the state that would serve as makeshift medical facilities. They include 1,600 beds at Nashville's Music City Center, 170 beds at at Memphis' Gateway Shopping Center, and an as yet-unknown number of beds at the Chattanooga Convention Center and Knoxville Expo Center.

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