Tennessee doctors, once again, implore Gov. Bill Lee to issue mask mandate

Tennessee doctors, once again, implore Gov. Bill Lee to issue mask mandate
The sharp rise in COVID-19 cases across the country has put the focus squarely back on prevention once again. That includes wearing a face mask, to protect yourself and others from possible infection. (Source: KSLA)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - On the heels of Tennessee’s largest teachers union asking Governor Bill Lee for a statewide mask mandate, a group of the state’s doctors is following suit.

They said metrics are higher than they have ever been, and hospitals are running out of space.

The group of doctors requesting the statewide mask mandate is from Nashville. The effects thought of this pandemic are being seen across the state. On Wednesday a West Tennessee Hospital said it can no longer take transfer patients because there are too many people at the hospital.

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The announcement from West Tennessee Healthcare Wednesday is affecting patients, especially in rural areas, across the region. Jackson Madison County General Hospital can no longer take transfer patients. It’s one of the few specialized care hospitals between Memphis and Nashville.

“Because of our census and increase in COIVD we are not able to accept those transfers,” said West Tennessee Healthcare COO James Ross.

Ross said of nearly 575 patients more than 100 have COVID-19. Doctors in Middle Tennessee said their hospitals are becoming more crowded too, and resources are being stretched.

“I’m worried about the prospect of having to decide who to resuscitate based on limited resources,” said Dr. Jessica Rosen.

On Wednesday doctors in Nashville did not mince words on what they think of Lee’s response to the pandemic, and what the Volunteer State needs.

Local leaders stepping up calls on Gov. Bill Lee to require masks statewide

“We also need our state’s leaders to do their part,” said Dr. Matt Semler. “Their jobs are even simpler than ours. Governor Lee needs to issue a statewide mask mandate.”

“Just as leaders disregard the scientific evidence of masks and mask mandates, health care workers feel ignored,” said Dr. Amy Gordon-Bono.

Even after requests from both rural and metro mayors and several other groups including the Tennessee Education Association, Lee still says the mandates are up to each county. His office released this statement:

“The governor’s position remains that he believes statewide, one-size-fits-all government mandates are not the best way to achieve sustainable compliance from individuals, as they are more likely to trust local leaders and that local leaders know the unique needs of their communities best. Currently, 25 counties, representing 66.3% of the state’s population, have a local mask requirement in place.

I’d also note that just because there isn’t a county mandate, there’s nothing preventing individuals from wearing them or individual businesses from requiring them on their premises. The governor has always strongly encouraged Tennesseans to make responsible decisions to protect themselves and others from COVID-19, including wearing masks in public, avoiding large gatherings, and staying home when sick.”

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