State lawmakers respond to COVID-19

Local Coronavirus Coverage

TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) – Local lawmakers are giving their thoughts on the coronavirus outbreak in Tennessee.

News Channel 11’s Blake Lipton spoke with Representative Timothy Hill and Senator Rusty Crowe Friday.

“I’m certainly no proponent of panic, we just want everybody to be safe and just go about their day and take precautions as necessary,” said Rep. Hill.

Hill said he approves Tennessee’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“They’re doing the best they can with the resources that they have,” he said, “at the state level, we just have to make sure if there is emergency funding is available or if there’s things we can be doing from the state’s perspective and I think that’s an ongoing conversation.”

So far, the state department of health has completed 129 tests for COVID-19. 26 people have tested positive.

We asked if he is satisfied with the testing conducted by the state’s public health laboratory.

“We’re looking at a ramp up process and so that’s going to take a little bit of time,” Hill said.

Sen. Rusty Crowe says more test kits could soon be a reality.

“I’m told that number one we don’t have enough test kits,” said Sen. Crowe, “I think the emergency declaration will help with that, we’ll start getting more.”

On Thursday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee declared a state of the emergency, allowing access to federal funding and other resources.

Crowe said he considers the state in a ‘preparedness phase.’

“If we need from a sick leave perspective or annual leave for teachers or family leave or school days for kids,” said Sen. Crowe, “we can deal with that with the local LEA’s, school boards, those kinds of things, if do need legislation, we can pass that very quickly.”

Rep. Hill also address the issue of paid sick leave.

“I think whenever you get into a potential emergency situation like this, I think that we’re looking for mercy at all levels, whether that’s from the state government’s standpoint or the employer’s standpoint, but we also need to be calm and we need to approach the situation as it exists.” he said.

For complete coverage of the coronavirus, click here.

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