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Home » Gov. Invoice Lee defends state’s pandemic response as Tennessee turns into prime state with COVID-19 infections

Gov. Invoice Lee defends state’s pandemic response as Tennessee turns into prime state with COVID-19 infections

Regardless of record-high COVID-19 infections amongst school-age kids and faculty districts struggling to remain open, Tennessee Gov. Invoice Lee on Thursday stood by his administration’s response, insisting mother and father — not officers — know greatest for his or her kids.

Gov. Invoice Lee holds briefing to handle COVID numbers throughout the state and in faculties

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“I nonetheless consider {that a} mum or dad is the perfect decider of what’s acceptable for his or her baby,” Lee stated throughout a day information convention. “That is been driving our technique to this point.”

Every day infections amongst kids between ages 5 and 18 have climbed to the very best degree because the pandemic started, information reveals. In complete, greater than 154,000 kids between ages 5 and 18 have been contaminated because the begin of the pandemic. 

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No less than 19 college districts have closed since early August because of outbreaks and staffing shortages. 

In the meantime, college districts aren’t allowed to completely shift to distant studying. The Tennessee Division of Training lastly rolled out a course of to permit particular person faculties to request a waiver to modify to distant studying final week after weeks of complicated messaging from the state.



a man wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a flag: Gov. Bill Lee holds a news conference, discussing the unemployment rate, hospital capacity and the schools at Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.


© Stephanie Amador / The Tennessean
Gov. Invoice Lee holds a information convention, discussing the unemployment price, hospital capability and the colleges at Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.

However the division has solely acquired 15 waiver requests as of Thursday and solely authorized 10, leaving many colleges no different choice however to shut and droop instruction.

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A number of college districts have carried out masks mandates, together with in some rural counties, but Lee has allowed mother and father to choose their kids out of the insurance policies, successfully turning native masks insurance policies into easy suggestions. 

The choice triggered a federal probe from the U.S. Division of Training, which argues Tennessee might infringe upon faculties’ federal obligations to keep up a protected studying atmosphere. 

Associated: This week in coronavirus: Tennessee climbs to the highest of the worst record

On Thursday, Lee acknowledged the effectiveness of masks in faculties and vaccination for kids ages 12 and up.

“We consider that masks work, and that if you wish to shield your child in opposition to (COVID-19), one software that you’d have is to ship your child to high school with a masks,” he stated.

However he stopped in need of committing to any further measures, insisting he must stability college districts’ rights to make coverage with mother and father’ proper to make choices for his or her kids. 

“What we try to do is present for as a lot safety as potential and supply for the rights of oldsters to have the final say of their kids’s well being,” he stated. “You do not have to exclude. You do not have to have ‘both or.’ When you actually consider it, yow will discover a manner ahead.”



a group of people standing next to a person in a suit and tie: Gov. Bill Lee holds a news conference, discussing the unemployment rate, hospital capacity and the schools at Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.


© Stephanie Amador / The Tennessean
Gov. Invoice Lee holds a information convention, discussing the unemployment price, hospital capability and the colleges at Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.

The raging infections amongst kids have attracted considerations from the American Academy of Pediatrics in Tennessee. The group met with Lee on Wednesday and urged the governor to undertake additional restrictive measures in a Thursday letter.

“We’re saddened by the elevated college closures because it would not seem that we’re actively studying from them or benefiting from the lived expertise of final 12 months’s mitigation measures,” the letter says. “We hope that we are able to implement strong mitigation measures to regulate additional surges this 12 months whereas we eagerly anticipate elevated vaccinations and enlargement to youthful ages.”

The group urged Lee to require vaccination for everybody ages 12 and up and mandate masks sporting inside faculties. In addition they beneficial elevated entry to testing, social distancing, correct air flow and hygiene measures reminiscent of hand-washing.

Lee stated he appreciates their recommendation however generally disagrees with them.

“I worth their enter,” he stated. 

Well being commissioner: ‘Our hospitals are in dire straits’

Tennessee now has essentially the most COVID-19 infections per capita amongst all states, in line with the most recent information from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. As of Wednesday, Tennessee reported 710 infections per 10,000 residents through the prior 7 days, the very best price within the nation.

Virtually all of Tennessee’s COVID-19 metrics are quickly worsening.

By Wednesday, Tennessee was averaging 7,700 confirmed circumstances and 38 deaths per day — the very best degree because the delta variant ignited a wave of infections within the state, information reveals. The weekly positivity price topped 19%. The CDC predicts the loss of life price may roughly double inside the subsequent month.

Tennessee’s ICU circumstances are 20% greater than the winter surge, and ventilator use is 40% greater in comparison with that point, Well being Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey stated through the Thursday information convention.

“Our hospitals are in dire straits,” she stated.

The state additionally set new data in hospitalization counts and infections amongst school-age kids. Each numbers reached the very best degree ever because the pandemic started final 12 months. 



a man wearing a suit and tie: Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey stands behind Gov. Bill Lee as he answers questions during a news conference with Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn at Tennessee state Capitol in Nashville, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.


© Stephanie Amador / The Tennessean
Tennessee Well being Commissioner Lisa Piercey stands behind Gov. Invoice Lee as he solutions questions throughout a information convention with Training Commissioner Penny Schwinn at Tennessee state Capitol in Nashville, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.

Physicians hand ship letter urging motion from Lee

Watch: Nashville medical doctors confront Gov. Lee after press briefing relating to pandemic response

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Instantly following the information convention Thursday, a gaggle of medical doctors adopted Lee as he left, making an attempt to ship to the governor an open letter that known as for a common masks mandate with out opt-outs. They chased after Lee and shouted questions at him.

“How do you’re feeling about kids getting sick and dying from COVID?” one in all them requested.

Lee walked away with out addressing them. 

The letter, which acquired verified signatures from virtually 5,000 medical professionals, urges the governor to permit for common masks mandates.



a couple of people that are talking to each other: Dr. Mary Kline (left), retired dietician Nan Allison, Dr. Joyce Williamson and Dr. Emily Tarvin speak to the media after confronting Gov. Bill Lee after his news conference about the overworked health care staff, hospitals and his executive order allowing parents to opt out of school mandates at Tennessee state Capitol in Nashville, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.


© Stephanie Amador / The Tennessean
Dr. Mary Kline (left), retired dietician Nan Allison, Dr. Joyce Williamson and Dr. Emily Tarvin converse to the media after confronting Gov. Invoice Lee after his information convention concerning the overworked well being care workers, hospitals and his govt order permitting mother and father to choose out of college mandates at Tennessee state Capitol in Nashville, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.

Mary Barnes, one of many medical doctors on the state Capitol, stated the paperwork contained greater than 150 pages of signatures from physicians.

In response to Lee’s remark that he appreciates pediatricians’ enter, Barnes stated not heeding well being professionals’ recommendation is “reckless.”

“That is simply reckless,” she stated as she choked up. “It is unethical, and it is preventable. It should not be occurring.” 

Reporters Meghan Mangrum and Brett Kelman contributed to this story.

Attain Yue Stella Yu at [email protected] Comply with her on Twitter at @bystellayu_tnsn.

This text initially appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Gov. Invoice Lee defends state’s pandemic response as Tennessee turns into prime state with COVID-19 infections

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