Tonight, Gov. Bill Lee addressed the State of Tennessee in response to a growing crisis as Tennessee is a national and world leader in COVID cases per capita and in the rate of spread of the disease.
Lee insisted that masks work and then refused to issue a mask mandate. He did issue an Executive Order that says very little. It limits indoor social gatherings to 10 or less people but allows high school sports, says nothing about whether schools should or will be open for in-person learning, and does not change current protocol regarding bars and restaurants.
Here’s more on that order:
Lee took no responsibility for his failure to take action up to this point – a failure that has made our state one of the most dangerous places to be in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic. As Tennessee hospitals are strained and residents are sick and dying (10,000 new cases a day, as Lee mentioned), Lee did not acknowledge that his policy ineptitude had anything to do with the current crisis – a crisis not faced at this time at this level anywhere else in the country.
State Representative Gloria Johnson of Knoxville offered this succinct response to Lee’s address:
“More than 6,000 Tennesseans are dead and many of these were preventable deaths. His own administration told us that hospitals are on the brink of collapse. At this point it is impossible to separate COVID-19 suffering and death from Gov. Bill Lee’s refusal to fight this virus.
I have already heard from constituents with hospitalized family members and from doctors who had hopes the governor would listen to their pleas, they were devastated by the lack of action.”
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That’s how the President of the Metro Nashville Education Association describes the environment students will face with in-person learning in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s here statement as reported by NewsChannel5:
“We know that online learning is far from ideal, especially for students with the most severe and profound disabilities and early elementary, and so it makes sense to begin in-person classes with these groups. We are concerned, however, that parents may believe their child will be returning to a ‘normal’ classroom, when in fact there will be little that is normal. Students will not be able to move about freely. They may be confined to their classrooms, or even an area of their classrooms. They will not be able to speak, work, or play with their classmates. They will be wearing masks all day except to eat, and their teachers will be wearing masks, face shields, gloves, and other protective equipment. There will be no reassuring hugs, and smiles will be impossible to see. For very young children, this may be a very strange and stressful situation. It is important that parents truly consider what an in-person classroom will look like in the midst of a deadly pandemic before they make the decision of whether to return in person or remain online.”