MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Health Department is receiving backlash for restrictions that some elected officials say are causing suffering.
The mayor of Arlington, Tennessee has sent a letter to SCHD and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris opposing the health department’s safer-at-home order and Health Directive 16 limiting capacity in restaurants to 25%.
Arlington Mayor Mike Wissman writes in his letter that the city has made every effort to be a good partner with the health department but he believes their most recent health directive has gone too far.
Wissman’s open letter claims the health department has “acted prematurely in its actions” in their most recent COVID-19 restrictions.
The letter is signed, in support, by all six Arlington Alderman.
“I think we were at 50% we probably wouldn’t have even had a letter because that still gives restaurants and those type businesses a realistic chance,” said Wissman.
The health department issued health Directive 16 in response to several record-breaking daily COVID-19 case numbers, reaching a peak of 1,163 cases on Dec. 17.
Wissman writes that other measures should have been taken into consideration and the risk versus reward of the coronavirus should be left to individuals.
“I think at this point, people know the risk,” said Wissman. “They know the precautions they need to take. All I’m trying to say is let’s focus on enforcement, let’s focus on messaging and let’s try to take that route instead of the shut down.”
“We actually were escalating very very quickly in exponential growth,” said Alisa Haushalter, Director of the Shelby County Health Department.
Wissman also claims that statistics and data do not support “such a drastic move.”
Haushalter pushed back on that comment in Tuesday’s Health Department briefing.
“I’ve said before, elected officials have a right to their own opinion,” said Haushalter. “I won’t comment on their opinion but I will say is that we are data-driven locally. The decisions that we make are not in isolation.”
WMC reached out to every Arlington Alderman who signed the letter, several responded saying the letter speaks for itself.
We also reached out to Harris for a response to the letter.
“The latest health directive was a difficult decision but it’s the best chance we have to slow the spread of COVID-19 until a vaccine is widely available,” he said.