Activists claim state regulations are hurting local efforts in the battle against COVID-19

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Grassroots activists from Knoxville to Nashville to Memphis held a virtual town hall-style meeting Monday evening to vent about state regulations they claim are hurting local efforts in the battle against the COVID-19.

They said they believe some of Governor Lee’s policies go too far in opening up businesses and not far enough to help working families.

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Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris was one of the featured speakers in the virtual town hall meeting talking about the need for local governments to set policy before and during this pandemic.

Harris wasted no time saying lawmakers need to do more to regulate nursing homes.

When it comes to deciding when to open non-essential businesses, there needs to be a better collaboration with all the local leaders.

“It would help us a great deal if we had more local control in this public health moment,” Harris said.

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Grassroots activists from across the state highlighted how some current state policies are hurting people with low paying jobs and limited benefits.

“We know that access to paid sick leave keeps us all safe and without a lot folks can’t afford to stay home when they are not feeling well,” said Feroza Freeland, a policy associate with A Better Balance.

Odessa Kelly with Stand Up Nashville said, “We have been urging our state leaders to think about the health policies we are putting forth and if they are really flattening the curve.”

Most of the participants said they believe the state has failed to provide universal access to free COVID-19 testing, refused to allow local assessors to freeze property taxes to provide relief for homeowners, and should coordinate with the rural and urban counties for the reopening of non-essential business.

Harris once again mentioned that the state needs to toughen the regulations of nursing homes where 12 residents have died and 77 residents have tested positive, according to the Shelby County Health Department.

“We would like to regulate that more at the county level, but we can’t because the state controls the licensure of nursing homes,” Harris said.

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