MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Governor Bill Lee signed an executive order Thursday requiring all Tennesseans to stay home unless they are carrying out essential activities like going to the doctor or picking up groceries.
“We need you to understand that staying home isn’t an option, it’s a requirement for the swift defeat of COVID-19 in Tennessee,” Gov. Lee says.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, the governor’s office said his decision is based on data that shows an increase in citizen movement across the state.
“Over the last few weeks, we have seen decreases in movement around the state as Tennesseans socially distance and stay at home,” said Gov. Lee. “However, in recent days we have seen data indicating that movement may be increasing and we must get these numbers trending back down. I have updated my previous executive order to clearly require that Tennesseans stay at home unless they are carrying out essential activities.”
The governor’s office says data from the Tennessee Department of Transportation analyzed traffic patterns for the month of March. Although TDOT found a drop in travel from March 13 – 29, travel started to increase on March 30.
The governor’s office says the administration also used data from a company called Unacast to understand “cell phone mobility” and found that travel was trending towards pre-COVID-19 levels.
According to the data, in Shelby County, people are traveling 40 to 55 percent less since the outbreak and going to non-essential places 60 to 65 percent less. Compare that to the Nashville area in Davidson County where people are traveling 55 to 70 percent less and visiting non-essential places 65 to 70 percent less.
Lee said the month of April will potentially be an “extremely tough time” for the state, as health officials predict there will be a surge of coronavirus cases.
Lee’s executive order will be in effect until April 14, 2020.