Governor strengthens COVID-19 strategies

Posted 3/31/20

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Monday issued an executive order implementing "Safer at Home" guidelines to improve social distancing, while also protecting the livelihoods of Tennesseans.Lee …

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Governor strengthens COVID-19 strategies


Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Monday issued an executive order implementing "Safer at Home" guidelines to improve social distancing, while also protecting the livelihoods of Tennesseans.

Lee insisted the “Safer at Home” order is not as restrictive as “shelter in place” orders established in other states.

“This is not a mandated shelter in place order,” he said during a press conference held in Nashville late Monday afternoon. “Because it's deeply important to me that we remain a state to protect personal liberties. But it is a strong urging for Tennesseans to stay home when at all possible, because I also believe that with personal liberty comes personal responsibility.”

The new “Safer at Home” guideline takes effect at 11:59 p.m. March 31, 2020, and will last through April 14, 2020.

Lee said he was alarmed by the increase in COVID-19 cases in the state’s rural counties.

Tennessee has 95 counties.

“I've been watching the numbers of counties impacted in our state ... in the last several days,” he said. “The speed with which this virus is moving into rural communities is concerning. We now have 77 counties in our state that have had a confirmation.”

Mayor Kevin Brooks

supports “Safer at Home” 

Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks told the Cleveland Daily Banner that he welcomes the new measures.

“Today, Gov. Bill Lee has issued a new set of “Safer at Home” guidelines for the entire state of Tennessee,” he said. “We fully support these new actions by Gov. Lee, and we thank him for taking these additional steps.”

The Banner is working with Brooks for additional information on how the governor's latest order exceeds actions already being taken in Cleveland.

Sen. Lamar Alexander

releases statement

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) released the following statement on Lee’s “Safer at Home” order shortly after the press conference.

Alexander said Lee was right to issue Monday's executive order, although the new guidelines may be “painful.”

“Everything I’ve learned as chairman of the United States Senate Health Committee persuades me to support his decision,” he said. “Staying at home is an essential step one in containing the disease and saving lives. New federal laws will help keep many payrolls coming and relieve some financial burdens.”

Alexander said he is working on what he called “a new Manhattan Project” to produce the largest possible number of COVID-19 tests with quick results.

He said the tests will detect and isolate the few who are sick and enable them to be cared for, “so the rest of America can go back to work, back to school and out to eat.”

He added that the U.S. Congress has already put $11 billion into massive efforts to create treatments and “hopefully a vaccine.”

Businesses: Essential

and non-essential

Lee’s executive order lists several essential businesses, including health care facilities and services, grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors' offices, restaurant takeout orders and human services.

However, businesses such as barber shops, hair salons, nail salons, waxing salons, spas, tattoo parlors, massage services and tanning salons will not be open to the public.

His order also shutters nightclubs, bowling alleys, arcades, concert venues, theaters, auditoriums and performing arts centers.

According to Business Insider, “the exact definition of 'essential' varies by location, but 'nonessential' applies to most recreational businesses."

Lee's executive order may be viewed at the following link:  


Essential businesses

may include these:

Food and Drug:

• Grocery and beverage stores (including stores that sell grocery and non-grocery items necessary for maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residents)

• Restaurants/bars (only for takeout/delivery)

• Pharmacies

• Convenience stores

• Farmer’s markets

• Food banks

• Food cultivation, including farming, livestock and fishing


• Research and laboratory services

• Hospitals

• Walk-in healthcare facilities

• Emergency veterinary and livestock services

• Elderly care

• Home-health care workers or aides for the elderly, children and people with disabilities

• Dental services

• Optometrist

• Nursing homes or residential health care facilities

• Blood banks

Transportation & Logistics:

• Gas stations

• Buses

• Taxis

• Private transportation providers (Uber and Lyft)

• Airlines/airports

• Mail and shipping services

• Auto repair shops

• Auto dealers/retail

• Auto parts/retail

• Warehouse/distribution and fulfillment

• Ride share

• Bicycle retail/repair

Housing and Real Estate:

• Property management company (Residential and Commercial)

• Commercial and residential construction

• Planning, surveying, engineering, design firms

• Real estate agents/services

• Home or building cleaning and maintenance

• Skilled trades such as electricians, HVAC and plumbers

• Hardware stores


• Daycare and childcare services

• Waste disposal and recycling

• Laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry services

• Funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries

• Lawn care

• Pest control

• Locksmiths

• Legal services

• Alarm and security companies

• Businesses that provide services that are necessary to maintain the sanitation, safety, and essential operation of residences and businesses, such as maintenance on HVAC.

• Human/charitable services

• Child care services

• Homeless shelters

• Businesses that provide food, shelter, social services and other necessities for those in need.

• Services that provide drug/alcohol/mental health counseling and support.

• Manufacturing

• Medical wholesale and distribution

• Hardware and building material stores

• Medical equipment/instruments

• Food processing, manufacturing agents

• Chemical plants

• Pharmaceuticals

• Paper goods/cardboard

• Sanitary products

• Microelectronics/semi-conductor


• Federal and state offices and services, including post offices and airports

• Essential government functions including law enforcement, transportation and businesses that provide government programs and services.


• Banks and other financial institutions 

• Insurance

• Cellphone and electronic stores

• Office supply stores

• Businesses that provide goods and services exclusively delivered through curbside pickup, drive-thru, shipment or delivery. (This includes any business that did not previously provide goods and services as described but now developed and implemented these delivery methods.)

• Newspaper/news media

Non-essential businesses

may include these:

• Personal appearance businesses (hair salons, eyelash salons, barbershop, tattoo shop, body piercing shop, day spas)

• Retail with no exclusive delivery or curbside pick-up

• Entertainment and recreation facilities (bowling alleys, trampoline parks)

• Indoor rock climbing

• Craft/art business

• Gyms, including yoga, barre and spin facilities 

• Concert venues

• Theaters

• Movie theaters

• Shopping malls

• Golf courses

• Sporting event venues

• Skating rink

• Dance schools

• Private Clubs (except for the provision of food for takeout)

COVID-19 growing

in Bradley County

The number of Bradley County residents infected with COVID-19 climbed to nine cases Monday as the virus continues to spread.

The latest numbers of those infected with the novel coronavirus in Tennessee, as well as across the nation, indicate Bradley County residents will need to continue hunkering down in their residences, save for a few quick ventures to grocery stores, pharmacies and other "essential" retail businesses.

The announcement regarding the Bradley County cases was made by the Tennessee Department of Health late Monday, who also listed the latest number of cases for the state.

To date, the case count in Tennessee is 1,834, including 13 deaths and 148 hospitalizations.

Of the 23,304 individuals tested for the virus, the TDH reported 21,470 had tested negative.

The majority of those with COVID-19 were between the ages of 21 to 30, followed by those ages 41 to 50.

Below are the following age ranges as reported by the TDH as of Monday:

• Ages 0-10 — 18 
• Ages 11-20 — 96 
• 21-30 — 462 
• 31-40  —  286 
• 41-50 — 299 
• 51-60 — 280 
• 61-70 — 212 
• 71-80 — 120 
• 80+  — 50

According to the TDH, laboratory reports of positive cases are reported to metropolitan and local health departments as soon as results are available. State numbers are updated at 2 p.m. daily and there may be a lag in the reporting of cumulative numbers at the state level.

In addition, “information about hospitalization status is gathered at the time of diagnosis, therefore this information may be incomplete. The number indicates the number of patients that were ever hospitalized during their illness; it does not indicate the number of patients currently hospitalized,” according to the TDH.

The TDH also said “some deaths may be reported by health care providers, hospitals, medical examiners, local health departments or others before they are included in the statewide count.”

In the United States, the number of infections continues to climb, despite efforts by cities and counties to stem the spread through restaurant, retail store and other closures of businesses where people congregate.

On Tuesday, Johns Hopkins University’s Operations Dashboard reported 164,610 positive cases in the United States, resulting in 3,170 deaths and 5,945 total recoveries.

The United States now has the most confirmed cases in the world, surpassing China and Italy, according to cases tracked by Johns Hopkins University.

Worldwide, there were 800,849 individuals testing positive for COVID-19, with 38,714 deaths and 166,768 total recoveries. 

In Bradley County, the number of cases has increased from the first case, announced on March 20, to nine cases, with more expected to be added to the list as testing continues.

Case timeline

for Bradley County

• The first case was announced during a March 20 joint press conference by Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks and Bradley County D. Gary Davis. The individual, who was unnamed, was described as between the ages of 41 to 50.

• There is no information regarding the second case. Initial reports indicated a second person had tested positive for COVID-19; however, that number was changed back to one case by the Tennessee Department of Health the next day. But by two days later, the case count was changed back to two.

• On Wednesday, March 25, Lee University announced a student who had returned to Cleveland after traveling out of town had tested positive for the virus.

• On Thursday, March 26, two more cases were added to the TDH’s list of those testing positive for the virus.

• The number of cases increased to six on March 27, decreasing by one case the next day before increasing to eight cases on Sunday, March 29.

• On Monday, March 30, the number of Bradley County cases increased to nine. 
Other than the first Bradley County case that was announced earlier this month, as well as the patient who self-identified on social media, the Cleveland Daily Banner has been unable to verify the age ranges, and other relevant details, of the other cases.

Unlike health departments in more populated areas such as Hamilton County, where there are hundreds of cases, health departments in more rural counites such as Bradley County have remained tightlipped regarding the age range and gender of those infected with COVID-19 for fear of revealing their identities.

Social distancing

and President Trump

For now, social distancing will remain a part of Americans' everyday lives.

On Sunday, President Donald Trump announced he would be extending social distancing guidelines through April 30, asking Americans to discontinue non-essential travel, going to work and gathering in groups of more than 10 people.

He said he believed the nation will be “well on the way to recovery by June 1.

Gov. Bill Lee

describes a storm

Before concluding Monday’s press conference, Lee said Tennessee has been weathering a storm since a massive tornado touched down in Nashville earlier this month.

“There was a storm that began the day the tornadoes hit, and it has continued through this day,” the governor said. “And those storm clouds are intense, and they are severe. We are weathering that storm.”

If all Tennesseans follow  "Safer at Home" measures contained in Monday’s executive order, Lee said the storm will pass.

“We don't know where we are exactly in the line of this storm that's going over our state, but it is passing and we will see the end of this ... if we do this right and if we work together," he said. "If we encourage one another ... if we're innovative and creative, and we take personal responsibility and we seek to help those who are most vulnerable, we will get through this storm … and we will have an outcome that we're all proud of. I encourage you all to do your part, and stay at home.”



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