JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- On Thursday Governor Bill Lee and First Lady, Maria launched the “Do your part. Stay Apart.” campaign. A new public service announcement encouraging social distancing and staying at home to stop the spread of the virus.
“At the end of the day- Tennesseeans are going to have to take personal responsibility to protect their lives and the health of their neighbors,” said Lee at Thursday’s press conference.
But some say – a PSA is not enough.
“We have community spread here now and that means that anyone that you see could possibly be infected with this virus,” said Dr. Blair Reece with the Quillen College of Medicine.
She says she’d like to see a stronger call to action – like a stay at home declaration similar to what’s been enacted in at least 22 other states. A similar call expressed Tennessee doctors signing an online petition.
But Governor Lee says he’s not yet ready to issue a statewide requirement.
“What’s happening in a rural county or in your district is different than what’s happening in downtown Nashville and that’s why you have different things going on across the state,” he said.
For now – he seems content to let local governments decide what’s best in their cities.
“About 50% of our population is under “stay at home” requirements and those populations are in the most densely populated areas of our state which is what makes sense,” Lee said.
Leaders here in the Tri-Cities are also hesitant to issue a mandate.
“The number of cases is going to increase as we take more tests but the number of total cases we have up here is so much less than the Chattanooga, Memphis and Davidson county/Nashville area,” said Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest. “I’d hate to see us have the same restrictions that these larger cities have.”
Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock says she is working with other mayors to help make a unified decision.
“Whatever we do, we feel like we need to do it as a region as well. being a small city, you take some action…we’re so close to each other that we want to do something that’s effective,” said Brock.
Tri-Cities’ leaders are continuing to consult with health officials before making any major decisions.
With numbers changing daily – all seem to agree it’s still a day to day decision that could change if conditions warrant.