On Thursday, April 2, Gov. Bill Lee mandated Tennesseans stay at home unless carrying out essential activities.

Gov. Bill Lee has ordered Tennesseans to stay home after data shows movement has increased this week.

The new move, which was mandated through Executive Order 23, comes just days after “strongly urging” the behavior.

“Over the last few weeks, we have seen decreases in movement around the state as Tennesseans socially distance and stay at home,” said 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. Staying home isn’t an option – it’s a requirement for the swift defeat of COVID-19.”


The list of essential activities is lengthy and can be found at the governor’s new website devoted to COVID-19 news and information.

The mandate goes into effect immediately.

State, county rated D- in social distancing

Traffic patterns analyzed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation show a steep drop-off in vehicle movement from March 13-29 and data from this week shows it’s beginning to trend upwards, the state said.

Additionally, state officials said they used data from Unacast to understand cell phone mobility and determine movement trends. The data reportedly shows movement amongst Tennesseans is trending toward pre-COVID-19 levels.

Unacast rated the state at a D- for social distancing, suggesting the state has only seen a 25-40 percent change in average mobility. Statewide confirmed cases grew to 2,845 Thursday and deaths rose to 32.

Tipton County was also rated a D-, its data showing non-essential visits and changes in mobility increasing in the last week. There have been 24 confirmed cases, of the 220 tests conducted, thus far.

Shortage of beds, ventilators

Wednesday Lee also communicated the expected surge of cases will mean a shortage of hospital beds for patients who need them.

To date, 263 of Tennessee’s patients had been hospitalized with COVID-19.

A University of Washington study projects COVID-19 deaths will peak in two weeks and Tennessee’s peak resource use will be on April 19. The study also projects:

  • Tennessee will need an estimated 15,618 hospital beds, which is nearly double the 7,812 it currently has
  • the state will need 2,428 ICU beds, but only has 629, meaning a potential 1,799 bed shortage
  • Tennessee will need 1,943 invasive ventilators

The study also projects deaths will reach 3,422 by Aug. 4, with a peak of 165 deaths per day on both April 20-21. To date, 32 people have died from COVID-19 complications, up 8 since Wednesday.

According to audio obtained by The Tennessean, Unified Command Group Director Stuart McWhorter said college dormitories, convention centers and hotels would need to be utilized in order to prepare for an anticipated bed shortage.

“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,” Lee said. “Every Tennessean must take this seriously, remain at home and ensure we save lives.”

Echo Day
Author: Echo Day

Echo Day is an award-winning journalist, photographer and designer. She is currently The Leader's managing editor.