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“Stay Home”

Tennesseans receive the message;
“Take this seriously, remain at home, and ensure we save lives”

By Tamas Mondovics

With COVID-19 Bulletin 11, Executive Order 23, last week, Gov. Bill Lee issued the next level of executive order telling Tennesseans to do what has been a message to all across the nation; stay at home.The order also strengthens the restriction of non-essential travel.

“The month of April stands to be an extremely tough time for our state as we face the potential for a surge in COVID-19 cases,” Lee said. “Every Tennessean must take this seriously, remain at home, and ensure we save lives.”

The disaster declaration makes funding available for state and local governments and some non-profits that have been affected by COVID-19, and it also provides federal assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for recovery. Upon signing Executive Order 23, Gov. Lee emphasized the requirement for Tennesseans to stay home unless they are carrying out essential activities as data shows an increase in citizen movement across the state.

“It is a new strengthened order,” Lee said.

While the measure seems to have been there all along, President Donald Trump, issuing a disaster declaration for Tennessee amid the COVID-19 pandemic a short time earlier, prompted the new declaration. Lee explained during the press conference that data from the Tennessee Department of Transportation analyzed traffic patterns for March 2020, which has revealed that while safer at home measures and further restrictions on businesses showed a steep drop-off in vehicle movement from March 13-29, data beginning on March 30 indicated travel trends had once again started ticking upwards.

“Over the last few weeks, we have seen decreases in movement around the state as Tennesseans socially distance and stay at home,” Gov. Lee said. “However, in recent days, we have seen data indicating that movement may be increasing, and we must get these numbers trending back down. I have updated my previous executive order to clearly require that Tennesseans stay at home unless they are carrying out essential activities.”

Thanks to the data gathered by state officials, the message that it isn’t over until it’s over is quite clear. According to state officials, the administration also analyzed data from Unacast to understand cell phone mobility and determine movement trends among people. Unacast indicates the movement of Tennesseans is trending toward pre-COVID-19 levels.

Lee said that the enforcement of the order would come in stages, starting with “a verbal warning,” but while clarification on exactly how the order will be enforced, is yet to come Lee said he was “leaving that up to local jurisdictions” a notion that has caused some concern about its effectiveness. The executive order remains in effect until April 14, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.