MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Health officials are sounding the alarm as Tennessee Governor Bill Lee prepares to sign new COVID bills into law.
Sweeping new coronavirus legislation is expected to be signed into law. The changes in Tennessee include banning governments and schools from requiring masks. That action worries doctors.
“Going too quickly on lifting all of these mandates can have a negative effect on all what we’re doing,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Manoj Jain.
Nearly 33 percent of active cases in Shelby County are among those under 17 years old, the most of any age group. Jain says those statistics prove the need for a mask mandate in schools.
“This all makes a lot of sense for us to continue the measures, continue the vaccination, and try to bring those number of cases down by reducing the vulnerable population,” Jain said.
Under the new laws, a 14-day mask mandate would only be allowed if governments and public schools hit a certain threshold, which is at least 1,000 cases for every 100,000 residents over a two-week time period.
Former teacher Harold Carswell believes schools should be left to decide what’s best for them but hopes parents choose wisely with COVID-19 still lingering.
“I just hope that people will be open-minded be just lenient to the fact that the virus is still here,” Carswell said. “I do think that there’s a difference between forcing everyone to do it, forcing everyone not to do it, and then simply saying ‘This is we’re going to allow, and for where you are you make the best choice for you.'”
Lee has until the end of the week to sign these bills into law, which he has said he will do.