More than 2,000 doctors and nurses have now signed a petition encouraging Tennessee Governor Bill Lee to follow the city of Nashville and order residents to stay in their homes.
On Sunday, Lee did restrict bars and restaurants to only offering takeout. He also closed gyms. But he has not closed non-essential businesses.
Several leaders of the petition organized a press conference online to explain their thinking.
Dr. Tufik Assad, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at Williamson Medical Center, says the timing is critical because he expects people returning from trips could be contagious, even if they’re feeling well.
“I’m very concerned that people are going to be coming back from their pleasant spring break trips and in the next week, two or three, we’re going to see a major increase in the number of severe illnesses,” he said.
These physicians say they also want a mandatory quarantine for anyone returning to Tennessee from coronavirus hotspots, like parts of Europe, Seattle and New York City.
There are still many counties without a single confirmed case, or just a handful. Dr. Devin Sherman of Williamson Medical Center said he can imagine a stay-at-home order would feel like an overreaction there. He argues COVID-19 demands it.
“It is highly infectious, and it will touch every corner of the state unless we can do a better job of protecting the entire population,” Sherman said.
If hospitals in urban centers become overwhelmed, Sherman notes that rural hospitals rarely have much capacity for patients requiring intensive care.
“There’s going to be nowhere to go,” he said. “We’re all in this together. And we really have to understand that.”
This story was originally published on WPLN.