NASHVILLE, TN – Three pulmonary specialists and the head of the Vanderbilt Infectious Disease Department praised Governor Bill Lee for closing restaurants, gyms, and restricting visitation to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Lee issued Executive Order #17 Sunday, March 22. It prohibits social gathers of 10 or more people. But the physicians said Lee didn’t go far enough.
“I believe shelter in place is one of the ways we can mitigate the spread of the virus since we have no vaccine and have no definitive therapy fro this disease,” said Dr. Aaron Milstone, a critical care physician at Williamson Medical Center.
“Governor Lee acted in a bold way but I believe that we can act bolder,” said Dr. Tufik Assad, a pulmonary specialist.
“We know based on several news reports out of the University of Florida that several college students have contracted this illness. So I am very concerned that these students who are coming back from their pleasant Spring trips and in the next two or three weeks, we are going to see a major increase in the number of people with this severe illness,” he said.
Mayor John Cooper issued a “Safer at Home Order” Sunday that closes non-essential businesses in Davidson County and urges people not to gather in groups of more than 10 people.
Hospitals are beginning to run short of masks, gloves, and gowns, collectively known as personal protective equipment (PPE). Assad said an aggressive shelter in place policy and self-quarantine minimizes the number of people who will contract the virus.
And if fewer patients present themselves at local hospitals with COVID-19 symptoms, medical workers will not burn through the available supplies of PPEs so quickly.
Representative Mike Stewart sharply criticized the Lee administration last week for not dealing effectively with the outbreak. He slammed Lee again Sunday for not knowing that hospitals were running out of PPEs and for not ordering more supplies sooner. “They’re available, you just have to buy them,“ Stewart said.
According to Tennessee Health Department records, the state has received a shipment of PPE from the federal strategic stockpile. NewsChannel5 reported Nashville Metro area will get about 9,000 masks, 1,500 gowns, 1,700 face shields, and 5,000 pairs of gloves.
On Monday, the Governor established a COVID-19 Unified Command, headed by Stuart McWhorter who will coordinate with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, and Departments of Health and Military.
Lee said the virus is a causing a governmental crisis. “I have appointed the Unified Command to effectively change the way we attack COVID-19 in Tennessee as we work to simultaneously address heath, economic, and supply crises,” Lee said.
Members of the command are: Stuart McWhorter, Department of Finance and Administration, Patrick Sheehan, TEMA Director, Dr. Lisa Piercey Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Health, Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes, Adjutant General, Tennessee Department of Military.
Honky Tonks are closed and except for an occasional jogger and yellow-hatted construction workers, lower Broadway was deserted Monday.