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Big-Government, Anti-Life Republicans Pass Deathly COVID-19 Legislation

Previously published in the Cheatham Exchange, by a Cheatham County Democrat

On October 30, Republicans in the Tennessee Assembly passed a law that prevents local school districts, elected mayors, the governor and health departments officials from taking measures to protect the citizens of their jurisdiction from COVID-19 and other pandemics until a huge surge in the disease is killing thousands. School and government mask mandates can’t be required until “a future coronavirus surge matches the prior peaks of the devastating pandemic.”

If signed by the governor, city leaders, health departments and other government agencies and public schools could not enact a temporary mask mandate unless they are in a county with at least 1,000 new infections for every 100,000 residents over a 14-day span. Tennessee counties only reached this point during the most serious weeks of the coronavirus infection in the winter and Delta surges. According to the Tennessean (October 31), Dr. David Aronoff at Vanderbilt says this is like “forbidding firefighters from combatting a blaze until after it engulfed a house.”

The original bill would have prevented mask mandates at private schools and private businesses, but these restrictions were dropped after Ford Motor Company, other businesses and business associations, such as the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, objected. Still, it prevents private businesses from turning away customers or employees who do not provide proof of vaccination, not allowing vaccine mandates even they are a federal requirement. The bill would give the governor exclusive power to issue executive orders and direct health departments during a pandemic, taking away control from local health departments. And, while private schools can protect their students and staff, public schools cannot.

Tennessee has a poor record of fighting the pandemic and keeping citizens safe, evidenced by the second highest per capita infections of all states during COVID-19, one of the worst delta surges and the eighth-lowest vaccination rates among the states. We have had 16,351 deaths and 36,973 hospitalizations, with the numbers increasing. Locally, 2 teachers in Cheatham County have died from COVID-19. Studies have determined that one COVID-19 infected classroom teacher can spread the virus to 50% of their students. And, for every reported single case of COVID-19 in children there can be 6 additional undiagnosed cases. It is no time to be outlawing medically proven lifesaving measures that can be taken by local communities!

By focusing their attention and spending our tax dollars to pass such legislation Republicans are proving to be the prodeath party, not pro-life. They are also proving to be anti-small business and hostile to local governing bodies, controlling life and death issues from the governor’s office on a political basis with no respect for science or health expertise. Do you want the governor or a your legislator to be your doctor, or do you want a doctor trained in medicine? Do you think private schools and businesses should be able to protect children and their workers, while public school children and teachers should be exposed to infections without any protections?

The role of the state government is to improve our health and quality of life, not to cause more death and illness in the state. This bill is dangerous and must be stopped! Call (615-741-2001) or email (bill.lee@tn.gov; https://www.tn.gov/governor/contact-us.html) Governor Bill Lee and tell him not to sign this bill, which is a threat to the health and safety everyone in the state and will further hinder our economic recovery from this devastating pandemic.