Virus Outbreak Tennessee

Neighbors in Nolensville, Tenn., have an informal gathering while keeping a safe distance because of the coronavirus Sunday, March 22, 2020.

(The Center Square) – Senate Democrats in Tennessee sent a letter to Gov. Bill Lee on Monday, urging him to implement a "safe-at-home" order, which would require residents to stay in their homes unless they are leaving for essential travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The surge of coronavirus cases in our state has and will continue to put our doctors, nurses and caregivers under great strain and threatens to thrust our medical system and health-care supply chain toward a crisis point,” the letter said. “If we want to ensure that every Tennessean who requires hospitalization has a bed and sufficiently-equipped medical professionals to treat them, we must do more to reduce the speed at which the coronavirus is spreading in our state.”

The letter did not specify what the safe-at-home order would restrict, but Senate Democrats spokesman Brandon Puttbrese told The Center Square in a phone interview it would be similar to the orders in Nashville, Memphis and other localities. Nashville was the first locality in the state to implement such a policy this past weekend.

In Nashville, essential activity includes trips to the grocery store, to the pharmacy, for medical appointments and to a restaurant for take-out food, among other things. Essential activity also includes taking a walk, riding a bike, hiking and jogging for exercise. The order requires people stay 6 feet apart when doing these activities.

All businesses deemed nonessential also are closed under this order.

During a news conference Monday, Lee was asked whether he would implement stricter policies, such as stay-at-home orders. He said everything was on the table, but he was not implementing such a policy at this time. Although some states and localities have implemented these policies, he said places are different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Tennessee has 615 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including two deaths. The country has more than 43,000 confirmed cases, including at least 530 deaths.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. Symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing.

Most people who have it develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually the elderly and those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Tennessee for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.