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Doctors say that TN lifting COVID-19 protections jeopardizes lives, economy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) —Doctors who've long advocated for strict health protections in middle Tennessee say Gov. Lee's move to expire the Safer at Home order could put lives and the economy in jeopardy.

Dr. Aaron Milstone, a pulmonologist currently treating COVID-19 patients and spearheaded the movement of thousands of doctors calling for a Stay at Home order in Tennessee is again warning Gov. Lee that his decision to reopen the economy may be too soon.

"COVID-19 can spread asymptotically, showing no symptoms, for weeks and is highly more contagious than a typical flu and there is no cure or vaccine. Do you want to be the employer responsible for employees or patrons getting sick or worse dying?" Milstone asked.

Gov. Lee announced Monday that a vast majority of businesses in most Tennessee counties will be reopening by May 1, and some will begin to open as early as next Monday.

This doesn't include counties with their own health departments, like Davidson, where local officials will decide on safer at home orders.

Milstone argues that data shows physical separation is slowing the spread on coronavirus and mitigating the strain on healthcare workers, hospitals and first responders.

"Rolling back health protections requiring physician separation too soon without other conditions being met only gives the virus more fuel, places to spread," Milstone said.

So what do doctors on the frontlines think it will take to reopen the economy? Here are the stipulations from Dr. Milstone:

  • Scale protection for first responders and health care workers from infection
  • Contact tracing and isolation that breaks chains of transmission when they are discovered
  • Scale regular routine, rapid testing: Just because you don't have it today, doesn't mean you can't get it tomorrow, Milestone says

In response to the pandemic, Governor Bill Lee has also established a COVID-19 Unified Command in Tennessee. The joint effort includes TEMA, the Department of Health and the Department of Military.

COVID-19 Symptoms:

  • Mild respiratory illness with:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Some patients have severe symptoms that require hospitalization

Here are the latest guidelines from the White House on coronavirus:

  • Older people and those with a serious underlying health condition should stay home and stay away from other people.
  • If you, your children, or anyone in your household is sick, you should stay home and contact your medical provider.
  • Everyone should avoid social gatherings in groups of 10 or more people.
  • Everyone should avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts. Instead, guidelines suggest using the drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options.
  • Everyone should avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits.
  • Everyone should avoid visiting nursing homes, retirement, or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.

Health officials said these are the best ways to prevent illnesses from spreading:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

For questions or concerns about COVID-19, the Tennessee Department of Health created a patient hotline: 877-857-2945.

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