Gov. Lee is failing to reopen Tennessee safely

Tennessee doctors say the state is lagging behind on three factors needed for a safe reopening of the economy.   Today, three Middle Tennessee physicians delivered a message of their own to Governor Lee in response to the recent increase in positive cases and hospitalizations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Thomas Phelps said,

“Gov. Bill Lee ignored doctors and began rushing to reopen businesses on April 27 without a careful plan to contain the virus and protect our workers and that has allowed things to get worse, and now there are more than 430 Tennesseans who have died and more than 9,000 active Covid-19 cases.

But remember, we saw that after refusing to listen to health experts the first time, Gov. Lee eventually, under mounting pressure from TN doctors, instituted a Stay at Home order. We saw that the medical community was right and Tennessee lowered the curve and slowed the spread.

But instead of using that time to prepare and address the health crisis by increasing contact tracing and speeding up testing so that we can break the chain of transmission when it’s discovered,  Gov. Lee rushed to reopen without taking a more cautious approach to protect our economy and lives.”

Dr. Susan Andrews, a family practice physician in Murfreesboro added,

“We are now seeing the consequences of that rushed decision.  Tennessee coronavirus infections have hit a new peak at nearly 28,000 positive cases and almost 2,000 hospitalizations.  The average positive cases per day has grown to 486 since June 1.  That’s up from an average of 396 in May and 283 in April.  This is not a good trend.”  Dr. Andrews pointed to Washington State as an example of a careful approach to reopening, based on science and data.

Dr. Amy Evans, a Middle Tennessee pediatrician said,

“We have heard mounting stories about the impact of Covid on children and there is so much we do not yet know.  This is all the more reason for a more cautious approach than what Tennessee is doing right now.

We are seeing children’s summer camps and sports leagues reopening, people refusing to stay physically separated from one another and masked. This will lead to more avoidable spread of Covid-19, more avoidable hospitalizations and more avoidable deaths.”

Dr. Phelps concluded his remarks with an ask of Governor Lee,

“The solution today, is the same solution we have asked for all along - among the others on our list, chief today is: Expanded rapid contact tracing and isolation of cases that breaks chains of transmission when they are discovered. People must be notified quickly if they’ve been in contact with someone with Covid so that they can isolate and protect their family, coworkers and others in the public. Of our current cases, how many people have been contacted, traced and notified, how many others are still going to work, the grocery store, out into the public potentially infecting many more? Until Governor Lee addresses contact tracing and isolation, cases will continue to rise, hospitalizations will rise and deaths will rise.”