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Tennessee doctors: Make masks mandatory, enforce rules

The doctors criticized Gov. Lee for not doing enough to protect citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A group of critical care physicians is calling on Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee to do more to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. 

In a Monday news conference, Dr. Aaron Milstone, a pulmonologist currently treating COVID-19 patients, suggested the governor needs to do three things to bring Tennessee’s surging case numbers down. 

First, Lee needs to require people to wear masks in public and enforce it.

"When people refuse to wear masks it doesn’t protect their liberty — this selfishness is a threat to the liberty of everyone else. When people ignore speed limits and drive recklessly they are fined because they are endangering others. When people are drunk driving, they are fined, because they are endangering others. In this health crisis not wearing a mask and not staying apart endangers the lives of countless others and prolongs this health crisis," said Milstone.

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The doctors also want Lee to make businesses abide by the Tennessee Pledge enforceable, protecting their employees and customers by following safety guidelines and investigating complaints against those who don't.

The doctors also want Lee to give cities more authority to make rules that protect their citizens.

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"We were right about the Stay at Home order — it worked, it slowed the spread of COVID-19 and bought Tennessee valuable time to address this health crisis. But instead of using that time to get things under control like many other states, Gov. Lee squandered it in rushing to reopen without a more cautious approach to slow the spread. Instead of leading in this crisis, Gov. Lee’s most recent Executive Order puts the responsibility on county mayor’s to lead, while tying the hands of many city mayors who want to do more to protect their citizens. Now things are much worse. In June, Tennessee COVID-19 hospitalizations soared by 70% and ICU bed use increased by 56%” said Dr. Aaron Milstone, a pulmonologist currently treating COVID-19 patients.