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“Only gather with your household and wear a mask,” Gov. Lee urges Tennesseans as holidays near

Tennessee was identified as the worst state in the country for COVID-19 infections.
FILE - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee removes his mask as he begins a news conference July 1, 2020, in...
FILE - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee removes his mask as he begins a news conference July 1, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Earlier this week, as Tennessee registered its highest single-day coronavirus case increase, Gov. Lee held a news conference and issued a stern response. It wasn't a mandate to wear masks in public or clamp down on businesses or social gatherings. Instead, it was a plea for residents to do the right thing. “When we have people dying in this state as a result of this virus, we should be taking personal responsibility for this,” the Republican governor said.(Mark Humphrey | AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, file)
Published: Dec. 20, 2020 at 7:20 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2020 at 6:41 AM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee Governor Bill Lee addressed Tennesseans Sunday night around 8 p.m. amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state.

BREAKING NEWS: Gov. Lee delivers statewide address regarding COVID-19 at the state identified as worst location in the nation for infections https://bit.ly/3pbCa4w

Posted by WVLT on Sunday, December 20, 2020

During his address, Lee acknowledged that as we near the holidays family time is important, especially during a pandemic, but he urged Tennesseans to refrain from gathering over the holidays.

“I want to be clear with where we are and what we need to do together to get through this. We now have around 10,000 Tennesseans getting sick every day. To put that in perspective, that’s three times where we were around Halloween,” Gov. Lee said.

The governor addressed the issue of a surge in cases and hospitalizations, which spiked following the Thanksgiving holiday.

“It only took a matter of days to see gatherings around Thanksgiving translate into a record level of sickness. Tennessee cannot sustain a similar surge after Christmas or New Year’s. Tonight, I am asking you to make some hard decisions,” Lee said.

As a result of the surge in cases, Lee asked Tennesseans to not have indoor gatherings for the holidays with people outside of your household.

“Family time and celebrations are important. I understand deeply how much Tennessee families need each other. But we must do all that we can to blunt this surge and keep more Tennesseans from getting sick,” said Lee.

Outside of indoor gatherings, Lee announced that he signed and executive order for to help mitigate the spread of the virus in public settings.

Lee has implemented the following regulations for Tennesseans:

-Indoor public gatherings limited to 10 people

-Indoor sporting events limited (he did not specify a gathering limit)

-Employees to work from home for next 30 days if possible, if not masks should be worn at all times

Lee added that he would not be issuing a state-wide mask mandate, but still urged Tennesseans to wear them.

“Many think a statewide mandate would improve mask wearing, many think it would have the opposite effect. This has been a heavily politicized issue. Please do not get caught up in that and don’t misunderstand my belief in local government on this issue. Masks work and I want every Tennessean to wear one,” said Lee.

Lee concluded his address by reminding Tennesseans that testing is available and free for everyone and vaccines are being distributed in every region of the state.

“I believe in the courage of Tennesseans to face this darkest hour. I believe that victory will be ours and we have the power to determine how long this extends. If we each do our part, we will win and move to a new season of health and prosperity for our state,” he said.

This address comes one day after the governor’s office announced Tennessee’s first lady Maria Lee tested positive for COVID-19. Gov. Lee has tested negative for the virus but remained in quarantine ahead of his briefing.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs took to social media Sunday night following Gov. Lee’s address, backing the governor’s decision.

As of Sunday there were 2,893 current hospitalizations, 6,747 new cases and 57 new deaths in the state, according to the health department.

Tennessee was identified as the worst state in the country for COVID-19 infections.

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