Virus Outbreak Tennessee Bill Lee

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee answers questions March 16, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn., concerning the state's response to the coronavirus.

(The Center Square) – Gov. Bill Lee has signed an executive order to extend the COVID-19 pandemic state of emergency in Tennessee to Aug. 29.

The previous state of emergency was set to expire today. Lee first declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12, and extended the status in May.

“[Monday], I signed Executive Order No. 50, which extends the State of Emergency in Tennessee to Aug. 29, and promotes regulatory flexibility and social distancing measures,” Lee tweeted Monday afternoon.

As before, the executive order urges Tennesseans to limit activity, stay home as much as possible and continue to maintain social distancing. It also urges, but does not require, the use of face coverings when in close proximity to others, and it urges employers to allow remote work when possible.

The order limits social gatherings of 50 or more people, except when social distancing can be followed. The social gathering limit does not apply to houses of worship, weddings and funerals.

Restaurants will continue to be able to serve alcohol in take-out or delivery options. Bars are allowed to serve customers only at appropriately distanced seating. The order also includes provisions for broader access to telehealth services and lowers barriers for those seeking entry into the health care workforce.

Tennessee set a record Friday for new daily COVID-19 cases, recording 1,410 new cases. The Tennessee Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,212 new cases Tuesday, bringing the state's total over the course of the pandemic to 43,509, with 604 deaths.  

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 also are on the rise in Tennessee. As of Monday, DOH reported 527 people were hospitalized. A week prior, June 22, 448 people were hospitalized. 

Lee also signed executive orders to extend provisions allowing government meetings to be conducted remotely and to allow remote document notarization.

Staff Reporter

Vivian Jones reports on Tennessee and South Carolina for The Center Square. Her writing has appeared in the Detroit News, The Hill, and publications of The Heartland Institute.