OP-ED: ‘Rona Who?’ Tennessee Lags Behind Other States in COVID-19 Response

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By The Editorial Board

As many Nashville citizens refuse to obey social distancing guidelines, the state has continued to suffer a steep increase in recorded cases of COVID-19.  As of April 1st, nearly 3,000 Tennesseans have been diagnosed with the virus, and Unacast has assigned the state a ‘D’ rating for its dismally ineffective social distancing measures.

In the meantime, other state leaders took proactive steps to protect their citizens: On March 25th, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed a stay-at-home order to enforce social distancing measures, while Governor Lee resisted issuing such an enforceable order until April 2nd, after facing mounting public pressure. In a bid to protect personal liberties during an international public health crisis, Governor Lee inadvertently cost millions of Tennesseans a week’s worth of precious time that could have been used to contain the spread of the virus.

The Kentucky Governor has also warned his citizens of the COVID-19 threat in Tennessee, saying, “Here in Kentucky, we have taken very aggressive steps to try to stop or limit the spread of the coronavirus to try to protect our people,” he said. “We have made major sacrifices such as shutting down bars and restaurants, nail salons, all these forward-facing businesses. But our neighbors from the south in many cases have not.” The Governor specifically advised Kentucky residents not to travel to Tennessee.

To be fair, Tennessee’s accelerating number of COVID-19 cases can’t be blamed solely on state and local officials. Some Tennesseans don’t seem to be taking the pandemic seriously, and continue to hold large parties, kickbacks and large gatherings despite the CDC’s strict social distancing guidelines. Statistics compiled by Unacast show that social mobility in the state has only been reduced by 25% to 40% in recent weeks.

Recent data on the spread of COVID-19 in Tennessee reiterates a sobering message for young folks: Millenials and young adults are not invincible to the virus. In fact, 40% of all recorded coronavirus cases in Tennessee have been diagnosed in adults between the ages of 21 and 40.

The spread of COVID-19 has disrupted American lives in an unprecedented way, and projections show that deaths in Tennessee may not peak until mid or late April. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has predicted that the state could see between 124 and 199 deaths per day beginning April 20th, and until the pandemic begins to recede.

While attending kickbacks and running non-essential errands may represent the exciting and highly-mobile life you’re used to, please stay home. It’s a matter of life and death.

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