(WJHL) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee addressed the state on Sunday regarding the COVID-19 surge and announced he will sign Executive Order 70 that limits indoor public gatherings to 10 people.
“I’m signing an order that will limit indoor public gatherings to 10 people,” Lee said. “I believe high school sports are an important part of our kids’ lives, and they should continue, but in coordination with the TSSAA, we’re limiting attendance at indoor sporting events.”
Lee also said that businesses should offer work-from-home options for employees in the upcoming weeks.
“I’m asking business owners to let employees work from home for the next 30 days,” Lee said. “If work from home’s not available, masks should be worn at work — plain and simple.”
Gov. Lee announced Saturday, Dec. 19 that Tennessee First Lady Maria Lee tested positive for COVID-19, leaving the pair to quarantine.
This follows as Tennessee continues to experience some of the highest COVID-19 case rates in the country.
“We now have around 10,000 Tennesseans getting sick every day,” Lee said. “To put that in perspective, that’s three times where we were around Halloween. Thousands of our neighbors are in the hospital tonight.
“More than 100 people are dying each day. We are in a war. With arrivals with the first vaccines, we have launched an offensive that will end this war, but it’s the next few weeks that’s going to be the most critical for our state.”
In regard to the upcoming holidays, Lee pleaded Tennesseans to limit celebration to those within their households.
“I am asking you to not engage in indoor gatherings for the holidays that include anyone outside your household,” Lee said. “Family time and celebrations are important. I understand deeply how much Tennessee families need each other. But we must do all that we can to blunt this surge and keep more Tennesseans from getting sick.
“But beyond family gatherings and what I am asking you to do in your own home, we need to address public gatherings through these important weeks, as well.”
Ahead of the governor’s statewide address, officials with the Tennessee Department of Health also advised Tennesseans to limit holiday gatherings to halt the spread and a possible upcoming Christmas surge.
“It is going to require that Tennesseans change their interpersonal behavior over the next few weeks,” Dr. Lisa Piercey with the Tennessee Department of Health said. “If we have another surge after Christmas or after New Year like we did after Thanksgiving, it will completely break our hospitals.”
Piercey continued with a reminder that the state leads the country in COVID-19 infection rates.
“Tennessee does currently have the highest infection rate in the country,” Piercey said. “Our new infections are over 40% higher than the national average, and our active case count has grown by more than two-thirds in the last week alone.”