NASHVILLE -- (Thursday, March 26, 2020) Tennessee doctors treating COVID-19 patients are speaking hard truths today: Gov. Bill Lee’s administration is two weeks behind in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

This lag is endangering Tennesseans and the very medical caregivers who are working on the frontlines to save lives, according to Dr. Aarron Milstone, of Franklin, Tenn., a pulmonary physician and public health advocate whose pandemic model predicts as many as 40,000 COVID-19 deaths in Tennessee without more decisive action from Gov. Bill Lee.

“Our message is simple. Gov. Lee: Your failure to do what is right betrays the doctors and nurses fighting this pandemic,” Dr. Milstone said. “Governor, please use the best, most effective tool we have to flatten the curve: a stay at home order.”

Dr. Sonal Gupta, of Brentwood, Tenn., an internal medicine and primary care physician, is actively seeing presumptive COVID-19 patients via telehealth appointments. She estimates that COVID-19 is “two weeks” ahead of Tennessee’s response.

“If we’re to have any chance at defeating this with the least loss of life possible, then we need a stay-at-home order done yesterday,” Dr. Gupta said. “Every day that we delay on this, Gov. Lee, please, is additional lives lost, is additional disease spread.”

Dr. Gupta is also married to an anesthesiologist at Vanderbilt Medical Center who is treating patients infected by coronavirus.

“We are aware there is a very high likelihood that he will become COVID positive in the future so much so that he lives in a seperate room in our home, we’ve exchanged passwords to make sure we understand all that we need to in case of an emergency,” Dr. Gupta said.

“We’ve seen three countries, we’ve seen multiple states, I’m not sure, Gov. Lee, how many more examples you need to see to see how this is going to go.”

Dr. Jennifer Martin, a Nashville-based dermatologist who started the petition calling on Gov. Bill Lee to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, is married to a pulmonary critical care physician treating COVID-19 patients.

“We’ve got three daughters and we’ve chosen to separate as a family to keep me and the children safe while he’s on the front lines,” Dr. Martin said. He’s got a history of asthma which puts him at a higher risk for complications of COVID and with shrinking (supplies) of (personal protective equipment), that’s a big concern for us.”

Dr. Martin says a stay-at-home order is necessary because Tennesseans are still not understanding that COVID-19 is a “silent, deadly killer.”

“But now is the time for all of us to get that stay-at-home order in place so we can protect the lives of thousands of Tennesseans,” Dr. Martin says. “I’m not sure how many deaths it’s going to take for him to reach that threshold and make a decisive decision, but now is the time.”

The petition, started by Dr. Martin, asking Gov. Lee to issue a statewide stay-at-home order has now gathered more than 2,000 signatures by doctors and nurses and more than 22,000 signatures from every day Tennesseans.

“In three months from now, no one will question the bold measures we took to save lives, but there will be plenty of questions if we settle now for half-measures and PR campaigns,” Dr. Milstone said. “Gov. Lee should have acted earlier and now must do more.”

Who:

  • Dr. Sonal Gupta, of Brentwood, Tenn., who is actively seeing patients and married to anesthesiologist treating patients, too. Her healthcare colleagues in New York warn that half-step precautions are endangering lives.
  • Dr. Jennifer Martin, of Nashville, started the petition calling on Gov. Bill Lee to issue a statewide stay-at-home order. The petition now has more than 2,000 signatures by doctors and nurses and more than 20,000 signatures from every day Tennesseans.
  • Dr. Aaron Milstone, of Franklin, Tenn., a public health advocate whose local pandemic model predicts as many as 40,000 COVID-19 deaths in Tennessee without action from Gov. Bill Lee.