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Knox County mayor: County will comply with Executive Order 23, warns against more government control

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said he looks forward to Gov. Bill Lee's visit Friday to discuss Executive Order 23 and managing COVID-19 overflows.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Shortly after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced a new executive order to ensure Tennesseans only leave home on essential business, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs made his own announcement: the county would cooperate with the order.

Lee said that law enforcement agencies were given guidance on how to enforce the executive order. It came after officials found data that travel in the state was rising to pre-coronavirus outbreak numbers.

Jacobs warned of increased government control in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

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"During another crisis, Abraham Lincoln said, ‘Government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from this earth,’" Jacobs said during a live stream on Facebook. "Knox County will, of course, comply with this executive order. However, with our response to COVID-19, I fear that we may be testing the very limits of President Lincoln’s notion."

Lee said he would visit Knoxville on Friday to discuss how local officials could enforce Executive Order 23. He is also considering adapting the Knoxville Expo Center to provide overflow capacity for COVID-19 cases. Jacobs said that he was looking forward to discussing the plan with him.

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"As a people, we must maintain our hope, optimism and our faith in God’s provision," Jacobs said. "I encourage all Knox Countians to exercise the prescribed physical distancing guidelines, to engage in volunteer opportunities where appropriate, and to come together as a community through the use of technology."

Executive Order 23 will remain in effect until April 14. The state's death count from virus complications is now at 32, with 2,845 positive cases. That's up from 24 deaths reported Wednesday and 2,683 cases.

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