This State Is Refusing to Follow the White House's Advice to Stop COVID

With COVID cases surging, the governor of Tennessee is choosing to defy the nation's top experts.

With the U.S. witnessing coronavirus surges in states from coast to coast, it's becoming clear to medical experts and public health officials that a large percentage of new cases can be attributed to the reopening of bars and restaurants with indoor dining. Now, many mayors and governors around the country are quickly shuttering these businesses for a second time at the recommendation of health experts. But not everyone is on board. Despite the recommendations of the White House, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced, "We are not going to close the economy back down."

On July 27, Deborah Birx, MD, of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, visited Tennessee and suggested that the state shut down bars and limit indoor dining at restaurants. In the last seven days, the Volunteer State has seen 233 new COVID cases per 100,000. That puts it in the White House's coronavirus "red zone," along with nearly half of the states in the U.S. where new cases are higher than 100 per 100,000 people per week and/or the positive test rate is at least 10 percent. (Tennessee's is slightly under that benchmark at 8.5 percent, according to Covid Act Now.)

According to the White House's guidelines, public officials in "red zone" states should close bars and nightclubs, but Lee is refusing.

RELATED: For more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

"Tennessee is at that inflection point," Birx told local reporters at a press conference on July 27. "We've done a lot of modeling and we have found that if you all wear a mask—all Tennesseans—in every public area and you stop going to bars, and in fact close the bars, and limit your indoor dining, that we can have as big of an impact on decreasing new cases as we had with sheltering in place."

Just moments later, Lee announced that he would not only reject the recommendations, but he would not allow local county officials or mayors to take the authority to close businesses within their districts either. "I've said from the very beginning of this pandemic that there's nothing off the table," Lee told the reporters. "I've also said that we are not going to close the economy back down, and we are not going to. But I appreciate their recommendations and we take them seriously."

map of tennessee showing covid outbreak

Lee's refusal of the White House's advice comes as Tennessee is witnessing the potential beginnings of an outbreak. The state has seen its daily new case rates skyrocket in the past month, and it was also one of the four states Anthony Fauci, MD, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, said he's worried about on July 28. And for more on that, check out Dr. Fauci Is Most Worried About These 4 States.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
Filed Under