Gov. Bill Lee has issued a two-week statewide “safer at home” advisory in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Executive Order 22 was announced Monday, meaning residents are encouraged to stay at home when possible and all non-essential businesses need to close for two weeks.

The order began at midnight Tuesday and will last through 11:59 p.m. April 14. Residents are asked to stay home “as much as possible,” according to the order.

Lee also filed Executive Order 21, which amends Executive Order 17 to lessen the spread of the virus by limiting gatherings and non-essential services. Businesses such as hair salons, tanning salons, theaters and bowling alleys are now listed. A full list can be found https://sos.tn.gov/products/division-publications/executive-orders-governor-bill-lee.

Business limitations on restaurants and bars, gyms and fitness centers remain in effect. The order includes restrictions for nursing and retirement homes.

Lee said the order is not a mandated “shelter in place” for residents.

“From the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Gov. Lee has been deliberate and careful in his approach,” Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, said in a statement Monday. “This threat changes from day to day, hour to hour and minute to minute. I appreciate Gov. Lee’s ability to remain data-focused and flexible. Today’s order is a big step but a needed one at this time. Most population centers in our state are already operating under these conditions. Essential businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open.

“The most important part of this order is that it sends the message the governor has been sending for many days now in no uncertain terms: stay home and stay apart,” he added.

Residents can continue to get groceries, beverages and takeout from restaurants. Others essential businesses include, but are not limited to, educational institutions, religious and ceremonial functions, media, hotels and motels and gas stations.

According to Executive Order 22, people are “strongly encouraged” to limit the frequency of participating in essential activity or services.

The Tennessee Department of Health as of Monday reported 1,834 cases of COVID-19 and 13 deaths. There are eight reported cases in Loudon County.

Mayors speak

In a press conference Tuesday morning, the mayors of Lenoir City, Loudon and Loudon County gave a local update on the pandemic.

Lenoir City Mayor Tony Aikens said compliance from all parts of the community is necessary to effectively combat the coronavirus. Lenoir City Police Sgt. Christian Dragon was called upon to translate the conference into Spanish for the county’s Hispanic community.

“I’ve had several complaints over the weekend that the Hispanic community was gathering particularly at the soccer fields at Wampler-Keith Park over the weekend,” Aikens said. “So I want to be sure that that community knows the seriousness of this and … (Dragon) is going to do some translation for us to reiterate again to the Hispanic community that we shouldn’t be gathering at those soccer fields and things of that nature.”

Aikens said even though city parks remain open, social distancing guidelines should be practiced.

Loudon Mayor Jeff Harris agreed.

“We made a decision last week, last Friday, to close down our basketball courts, soccer fields and playgrounds,” Harris said. “Those are all closed. The parks are still open. You can still walk — walking trails, walking tracks. Just make sure as we mentioned here you keep the proper social distance. One of the greatest things to relieve stress is exercise.”

Loudon County Mayor Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw said HIPPA regulations prevent cases from becoming public.

“Treat everybody like they’re carrying the virus,” he said. “That is the best advice that I could pass along. Continue to follow CDC guidelines. Continue to do social distancing.”

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