Faced with a pandemic that’s infecting over 10,000 Tennesseans a day and killing more than 100, Gov. Bill Lee urged Tennesseans to only celebrate Christmas with members of their immediate household.
“I’m asking you to not engage in indoor gatherings for the holidays that include anyone outside your household,” said Gov. Lee.
The guidance came during a Sunday night press conference where Gov. Lee urged employers to allow employees to work from home for the next 30 days. Lee also said he is signing an order to limit indoor gathering to 10 people.
“We are in a cold, cruel phase of this pandemic,” said Gov. Lee. “It will get worse before it gets better. I know you’re tired, but we’ve got to double down.”
The state recorded 10,421 new COVID cases on Friday along with 115 fatalities, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. Warren County had 51 new cases on Friday and now has a death toll of 29 since the pandemic began.
“We are in a global pandemic that has been crippling our country for months and now Tennessee is Ground Zero for a surge in sickness,” said Lee, who believes Thanksgiving gatherings are directly related to the state’s current surge in cases. He said Tennessee has about three times the number of cases as it did at Halloween.
“Tennessee cannot sustain a similar surge after Christmas and New Year’s so tonight I’m asking you to make some hard decisions,” said Lee.
Lee continued, “I’m signing an order that will limit indoor public gatherings to 10 people. I believe high school sports are an important part of our kids lives and they should continue. But in coordination with the TSSAA, we are limiting attendance at indoor sporting events. We know it is gathering that have caused this surge and that’s why we’re making these decisions around gatherings that will help us blunt the rise in cases.”
As for work, Lee said, “I’m asking business owners to let employees to work from home for 30 days. If work from home is not available, masks should be worn at work, plain and simple.”
Lee said wearing masks are vital. He said that 80% of Tennesseans report they wear their mask all or most of the time. He said it’s time for the other 20% to step up and do the same.
“Masks work and I want every Tennesseans to wear one,” said Lee. “Tennesseans have two weapons that they must use in the next 30 days. Only gather with your household and wear a mask.”