Tennessee gov. encouraged but says state still faces serious threat

Gov. Bill Lee encouraged by Tennessee's progress during health crisis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As the Mid-South continues to reopen, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee says he’s “encouraged” by what he’s seeing. But the governor says we’re not out of the woods yet.

The governor made three stops in Memphis on Monday.

He stopped by the old Commercial Appeal building on Union, which will serve as an overflow hospital for COVID-19 patients.

His other two stops were in places he says must not be overlooked.

“We are very fortunate to be in the spot that we're in,” said Lee.

Memphis COVID-19 alternate care site complete

Standing in front of the new overflow hospital that the Army Corp of Engineers turned over to the state, Lee told WMC he was encouraged by how far the state has come amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We’ve tragically had a great deal of loss of life in this state, but we also we’ve had very encouraging numbers,” said Lee.

On Monday, the Tennessee Department of Health reported more than 18,000 COVID-19 cases in the state along with 301 deaths.

The department says more than 1,400 people have been hospitalized and more than 9,800 people have recovered.

The governor says the greatest challenge now is getting the state back to business, while still treating COVID-19 as the serious threat it is.

"It is the challenge of continuing to uphold the safety and health of every Tennessean, while we reboot our economy,” said Lee.

Phase 2 of reopening underway in Shelby County

Keeping people healthy means reaching out to communities often overlooked.

That's why two of the three stops the governor made on Monday were in south Memphis.

He visited a testing site in a low-income neighborhood and then rolled up his sleeves to help hand out meals to families at the YMCA meal distribution center and encouraged people to get tested.

“Part of our goal is to not only have people come to remote testing facilities, but us go to them,” said Lee.

The governor says the state will continue reaching out to more communities.

He also says testing at state prisons is now complete and he says the state hopes to test every nursing home resident and staff member by the end of this month.

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