Safer-at-home order debate divides Tennessee governor, group of doctors

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A virtual debate is intensifying between a large group of Tennessee doctors and Governor Bill Lee over his “safer at home” order responding to COVID-19.

During a brief webinar Wednesday, doctors from the front lines of the coronavirus fight appeared on digital screens to send a message to the governor.

“Governor Lee, your medical community in Tennessee is not divided,” said the group’s spokesperson Dr. Tufik Assad.

The doctors wanted to show their belief that a stronger stay at home order from Governor Lee, except leaving for essentials, is needed in Tennessee.

The group’s words were a response to words from the governor Tuesday.

“There are certainly medical providers who have opinions widely differing than the others and there is a lack of evidence about what decisions actually produce results,” said Lee during his daily afternoon briefing on state’s response to COVID-19.

“Despite all the suggesting, all the urging, data shows that this problem is only getting worse,” countered Dr. Assad. “The death rate and case count are where many of us said it would be when over 2-thousand Tennessee doctors first began pleading with you to act ten days ago.”

On Tuesday, the head of Vanderbilt’s Infectious Disease Division hoped the governor would do more than “strongly urge” Tennesseans to stay at home.

“To put in ways to enforce or mandate sheltering in place or staying at home and not congregating in groups and staying off of playgrounds and preventing large religious groups from getting together and things like that,” said Dr. Aronoff.

The governor maintains that Tennesseans are staying at home or apart without being ordered to do so.

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