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TN ranks 2nd worst in U.S. for new COVID-19 cases and some Dems blame governor's response

Only Oklahoma ranks worse than Tennessee in average daily COVID-19 cases for the past week when adjusted for population, the CDC said Tuesday.

As Tennessee grapples with its highest number of new coronavirus cases since the COVID-19 pandemic began, a group of Knox County Democrats blamed Governor Bill Lee's "lack of leadership" for the virus spread Tuesday. 

In a press conference held on Zoom, state representatives and county commissioners said Lee was "in over his head" and blamed increasing cases on his response to the virus.

"The slow response of this governor has been a mess that has made this terribly more difficult for Tennessee families and it shows," Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) said. "It’s really a sad day in Tennessee when extreme partisan politics becomes a higher priority than public health."

Not all on the call specifically endorsed a statewide mask mandate, though several called for it and for further statewide regulations to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

"Let's do something different," Representative-elect Sam McKenzie said. "I urge my fellow Representatives to just stop with the politics. Let’s stop and make informed and wise decisions because people’s lives are at stake."

Governor Lee's office did not reply to a request for comment Tuesday. 

The CDC said Tuesday only Oklahoma ranks worse than Tennessee in average daily cases for the past week when adjusted for population.

The top three worst days for new cases of the virus occurred in the past three days, data from the Tennessee Department of Health showed. 

Democratic county commissioners Courtney Durrett and Dasha Lundy voiced support for the county board of health, which the commission Monday advanced a proposal to strip of power.

"I cannot begin to express my worry for Knox county and the residents in this community. I want them to be safe," Durrett said.

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