Gov. Bill Lee gives COVID-19 update from Memphis International Airport


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Lee (R- TN) visited the Memphis International Airport Friday and addressed the media on the COVID-19 pandemic.

He announced the latest numbers: 1,203 positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 and six coronavirus-related deaths in the state.

Before speaking with reporters, he met with local leaders, including Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and Shelby County Health Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter. He said they discussed how state and local leaders can work together to get through the pandemic, but did not elaborate on what they discussed.

Lee then pleaded with Tennesseans to take social distancing seriously, asking them to stay away from crowds and groups. Lee begged faith leaders to not meet in person this weekend.

He also made an appeal to people under 40, saying Tennessee is seeing more cases of people in that age group than others. Even though they might recover, they could still pass it on to someone who wouldn’t.

“Those that do test positive for this virus spread it to those in the community long before they know they have the virus,” Lee said. “This is a very serious issue that will profoundly affect the health and lives of Tennesseans. We have already lost Tennesseans to this virus and we’ll lose more to the degree that you can do your part to stay apart.”

Lee said he’s met with representatives from the state grocers association, as well as food and tourism to discuss how the pandemic is affecting jobs and industry.

He said the supply chain is strong, so people don’t need to hoard or worry about not having food.

With regard to the economy, Lee said the latest actions have caused a big hit; employment filings in the state jumped from 2,500 to 37,000 in the last two weeks. He said he is weighing that impact with every decision he makes.

He also commented on why he hadn’t issued a statewide stay-at-home order; he called it unnecessary since all major metro areas have already done so. He said most of the state is shut down and has state troopers monitor activity daily.

Lee said as he navigates this crisis, he’s relying on other governors for guidance. Some are ahead of us and some behind us with their numbers of cases. He specifically named Massachusetts, Oklahoma and South Dakota as states with governors he keeps in touch with to discuss best practices.


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