Gov. Lee’s approach to ‘health crisis has failed’, health officials say

WATCH: Health workers call on Gov. Lee to issue statewide mask mandate

TENNESSEE — Healthcare workers across Tennessee called out Governor Bill Lee to enforce a statewide mask mandate as COVID cases increased.

Wednesday, medical professionals across the state held a public discussion to address their concerns.

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“Clearly Governor Lee, your fend for yourself approach to COVID-19 and this health crisis has failed. Your hospitals are at capacity, your healthcare workers are burning out, outbreaks are closing schools and harming businesses, your state is in critical condition,” said TN MD Amy Bono.

Tennessee reported around 46 COVID-19 deaths a day, thousands are hospitalized with the virus, and the positivity rate is around 13 percent.

“We need to join the many other states across the country in enacting a state-wide mask mandate because masks do protect all of us and they are the best-evidenced way to prevent transmission of this virus,” said Emergency Medicine Specialist Jessica Rosen.

The governor’s Press Secretary sent this statement in response:

“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. 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.”

Healthcare workers said there’ve been a number of petitions sent to the governor’s office for a mandate, but they say they’ve been ignored.

“In denying such requests, we feel abandoned by our elected leaders. We’re disappointed in some of the behaviors of our fellow Tennesseans and we’re worried about the health and safety of our patients, our families and ourselves,” said Bono.

The governor’s office said there are 25 counties representing 66.3 percent of the population in the state with local mask requirements.