No decision yet on extending Tennessee's stay-at-home order as April 14 deadline approaches

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With Tennessee’s stay-at-home order set to expire April 14, it is unclear whether Gov. Bill Lee will extend the order as statewide numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases continue to climb.

In an April 9 press conference, Lee said he has not yet made a decision on whether or for how long the order—which mandates that non-essential businesses close and that residents stay in their homes unless necessary to leave—could be extended.

“We’ll just watch the data every day and we’ll make a decision certainly before it runs out,” Lee said. “We’ll let people know what that decision is, but data changes quickly as you know and numbers change quickly.”

Lee said the state is looking at models coming from around the country as well as locally from Vanderbilt University. In a press conference with Metro Nashville officials earlier in the day, John Graves, an associate professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine, said a new model shows the number of cases could peak as early as the end of May, assuming social distancing continues.

However, if social distancing requirements are lifted, hospital capacity could be overwhelmed by mid-May.

“What’s critical that we take away from this modeling work is that the importance of social distancing continue until we reach a sustained drop in cases, as we’ve seen for example in South Korea,” Graves said.

Lee is not expected to have another daily briefing until Monday, April 13.

“What we’re most interested in is making the right decision at the right time and we don’t want to make a decision before we should,” Lee said. “That’s been a very difficult decision to navigate through, but that’s been the approach and that’ll be the approach this time.”
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.