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Gov. Lee strengthens stay-at-home order, jobless claims soar


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has strengthened a stay-at-home order after initially resisting a statewide mandate, despite pleas from the medical community for stronger action to defeat the coronavirus outbreak.

The Republican governor said a recent uptick in “movement around the state” forced him to order individuals to avoid all non-essential travel until April 14. The first-term governor had only “strongly urged” people to stay at home previously.

Lee received thousands of pleas from doctors and other medical professionals that a stronger order would help curb the virus’ spread. Meanwhile, the number of jobless Tennesseans continues to grow.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Below you will find the press statement by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announcing his new shelter at home order issued on the afternoon of Thursday, April 2, 2020. 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. –  Tennessee Governor Bill Lee will sign Executive Order 23 requiring that Tennesseans stay home unless they are carrying out essential activities as data shows an increase in citizen movement across the state.

“Over the last few weeks, we have seen decreases in movement around the state as Tennesseans socially distance and stay at home,” said Gov. Lee. “However, in recent days we have seen data indicating that movement may be increasing and we must get these numbers trending back down. I have updated my previous executive order to clearly require that Tennesseans stay at home unless they are carrying out essential activities.”

Data from the Tennessee Department of Transportation analyzed traffic patterns for March 2020. While safer at home measures and further restrictions on businesses showed a steep drop-off in vehicle movement from March 13-29, data beginning on March 30 indicates travel is trending upwards, again.

The Administration also analyzed data from Unacast to understand cell phone mobility and determine movement trends among people. Unacast indicates the movement of Tennesseans is trending toward pre-COVID-19 levels.

“The month of April stands to be an extremely tough time for our state as we face the potential for a surge in COVID-19 cases,” said Lee. “Every Tennessean must take this seriously, remain at home and ensure we save lives.”

The executive order remains in effect until April 14, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Gov. Lee will address these measures in the press briefing today at 3 p.m. CDT.