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Tenn. GOP proposes 19 COVID-19 public health restrictions, passes 5 in 2022 legislative session


(Mike Osborne) — Several new laws passed during the just ended General Assembly will change the way Tennessee fights COVID-19 going forward.

State lawmakers introduced 20 bills during the session that would have in some way restricted how the health crisis can be addressed. Five of those measures passed.

Nineteen of the proposals offered were filed by Republicans. Many conservatives considered health mandates intended to slow spread of the virus as infringements on personal freedoms.

Of the five bills that passed this session, one prohibits the state from closing churches during a health emergency. A second new law makes so-called natural immunity the legal equivalent of being vaccinated in Tennessee.

A third would make the drug Ivermectin available for use against the virus by prescription. Ivermectin does not have federal approval for such use, and can be dangerous when taken inappropriately. (This paragraph was corrected, see below)

Here are links to the five measures that were approved by the Tennessee General Assembly. (HB1137, HB1871, HB1960, HB2746, HB2858)

CORRECTION (5/2/22) The original version of this story indicated that a new state law makes Ivermectin available over the counter. That was incorrect. The new law does require that the medication be approved by an authorized prescriber.