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Gov. Lee Ends Public Health Orders

Lee pushes reopening, focus on economic recovery

By Tamas Mondovics

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced on Tuesday (4/27) the end of statewide public health orders and signed Executive Order 80, lifting the local authority to issue mask requirements in the 89 counties directed by the state health department. Lee’s decision focuses on addressing the economic and regulatory functions of the current statewide orders.

“COVID-19 is now a managed public health issue in Tennessee and no longer a statewide public health emergency,” said Gov. Lee. “As Tennesseans continue to get vaccinated, it’s time to lift remaining local restrictions, focus on economic recovery and get back to business in Tennessee.”

According to a press release from the Governor’s office, the provisions contained in EO 80 to be effective through May 31, 2021. Tennessee did not have statewide mask mandate, but EO 80 removes the local authority for county mayors in 89 of the state’s 95 counties to require face coverings throughout their jurisdictions. Lee has requested Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, and Sullivan counties with independent health departments and business restrictions or mask requirements to lift all measures no later than the end of May.

The release added that EO 80 extends deregulatory provisions to enable individuals, businesses, and other organizations time to adapt their operations in anticipation of ending said provisions.The order maintains access to federal funding, including SNAP benefits and cost reimbursements for the Tennessee National Guard’s testing and vaccination efforts.

EO 80 also offers a walk-up vaccine option via local health departments, but the COVID-19 vaccine will continue to be available to Tennesseans aged 16 and older by appointment. The order will also end the optional business guidance stating that the “Tennessee Pledge business guidelines issued at the start of COVID-19 have been officially retired.”

While the desire to return to normal is on the minds of everyone, this week’s EP 80 may surprise some, considering that the pandemic continues to cause illness around the world and showing no sign of slowing down.As reported by local media outlets, new COVID-19 cases this week by county included Carter +6, Greene +5, Hawkins +5, Johnson +1, Sullivan +9, Unicoi +1, and Washington +18. There have been 55,354 cases reported in Northeast Tennessee since the pandemic began.

No new deaths were reported in Northeast Tennessee on Monday, April 26, 2021, or over the past weekend, marking several consecutive days of no new fatalities. There have been 1,033 deaths reported in Northeast Tennessee since the pandemic began. For more information, please visit