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Lee says state guidance will soon cease
Bill Lee
Bill Lee

As we barrel toward summer activity, questions continue to surround concerts, Fourth of July gatherings, public swimming pools, and more.

During Warren County’s weekly coronavirus press conference on Tuesday, County Executive Jimmy Haley changed roles and spent much of his time asking questions instead of answering them. Gov. Bill Lee phoned in to the press conference and Haley asked him when the state might issue more guidance on big events like county fairs.

Gov. Lee answered that he hoped to have more guidance in the next week or so and hoped that would be the last time for COVID-19 guidance from the state.

“The idea that government required businesses to close was a terrifically difficult decision,” said Gov. Lee. “We want to get out of the business of putting out guidelines. This issue is really becoming one of personal responsibility.”

Gov. Lee said he’s not a fan of government mandates and said churches in Tennessee were never closed due to coronavirus. He said the state provided guidance and suggestions, but never ordered churches to close.

The governor pointed out Tennessee was one of the last states to close down and was one of the first to open back up. He said even with those scenarios, the state has a very favorable death rate per capita in that Tennessee is the 16th largest state, but ranks 41st in number of deaths.

Haley asked Gov. Lee what can be expected when the General Assembly returns to session to further discuss the state budget. The governor said officials had initially proposed dividing $100 million between cities and counties, but that amount has already been increased to $200 million and will likely be increased again.

“The budget will be revised again and I don’t know where it’s going to land,” said Gov. Lee. “A lot will depend on federal money. You’re going to see relief coming to cities and counties. I think the approach is going to be cutting everything back.”

Gov. Lee said he thinks state lawmakers will be “incredibly frugal” when it comes to setting the budget and he suggested city and county officials to act in similar fashion.