MEIGS COUNTY, Tenn. — Governor Bill Lee visited Meigs County on Tuesday, a rural area that also has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state.
During his visit, he praised the area for more than 62% of the population getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and encouraged more people to get the vaccine. He called it the best way to protect communities.
He also spoke about his executive order that requires schools to give students the chance to opt out of mask requirements. He said that the executive order is meant to ensure families can choose whether to send children to school in a mask.
"[It is] designed to give parents an option to have them go to school with masks or to go without," he said. "We think parents are the best advocate for their children."
Several lawsuits have been filed against the order, with many saying that it violates the rights of children with disabilities and compromised immune systems to safely attend schools. The CDC has recommended schools require masks regardless of vaccination status, to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading while students attend class.
The state health department reported almost 89,000 sick with COVID-19, shattering the records set during the height of the pandemic. Hospitals across the area are also reporting that they are running out of space for patients due to COVID-19.
However, they also said that more than half of all people across Tennessee received at least one dose of the vaccine.