Vicki Jordan of Nashville knows the risks our health professionals face on the front lines and is speaking up:

Tennessee is the Volunteer State. Never has this label been more appropriate than it is today. As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread across the country and Tennessee over the last several months, our doctors, nurses, health care workers and first responders have bravely answered the call - they stepped up, even as personal protective equipment (PPE) was in short supply. One of those doctors was Dr. Sonal Gupta, our doctor.

My husband and I have lived in Tennessee all our lives. In fact we live in the same house where my family has lived for generations. In February, my husband had a liver transplant, and he is taking immunosuppressant drugs to lower the possibility of his body rejecting the transplant. He is immuno-compromised and at higher risk for contracting COVID-19, so we must be very careful. We have been self-quarantined since early March.

When we heard about the lack of PPE for our frontline health care workers, we were appalled. These heroes, including Dr. Gupta, were risking their own health and maybe even their lives in order to care for those who were ill with COVID-19.

In April, Governor Lee made the decision to move forward with removing the health protections of the stay at home order. We are hearing mixed messages from the Governor about whether it’s safe to begin engaging with businesses again. For us, it is not safe.

Bringing workers and the general public together without first addressing the health crisis is putting both workers and the public at greater risk of a disease for which there is no cure, no treatment, and no defense; and this kind of strain is already leading to further—perhaps even worse—economic devastation.
Now we are seeing the results of this wreckless decision. Almost 50,000 Tennesseans have tested positive and over 600 people have died as a result of the coronavirus. Hospitalizations are on the rise, and, if we see hospitals over run, and our doctors, nurses and other health care workers once again stretched beyond their capacity to respond because this pandemic is spreading unchecked, we will once again be putting their lives at risk, as well as the economic well-being of our state.

Current data reveals that Covid-19 is five times more infectious than the flu. It often travels asymptomatically, in people who show no symptoms for weeks. The death rate is nearly 10 times that of the normal flu and unlike the flu, there is currently no treatment, no vaccine, and no defense — except physical separation from people.

We implore Governor Lee to protect our state and our health care workers by ensuring that regular, routine testing for EVERY citizen is available; rapid contact tracing and isolation of cases is in place, and adequate protection from infection for first responders and health care workers is in robust supply. Only then will it be safe to reopen Tennessee’s economy.