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‘That’s not a plan for us,’ says Lee of advice from White House on stopping COVID-19

Governor Bill Lee said that although he takes the advice from the White House very seriously, he does not intend to follow it.
FILE - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee removes his mask as he begins a news conference July 1, 2020, in...
FILE - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee removes his mask as he begins a news conference July 1, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Earlier this week, as Tennessee registered its highest single-day coronavirus case increase, Gov. Lee held a news conference and issued a stern response. It wasn't a mandate to wear masks in public or clamp down on businesses or social gatherings. Instead, it was a plea for residents to do the right thing. “When we have people dying in this state as a result of this virus, we should be taking personal responsibility for this,” the Republican governor said.(Mark Humphrey | AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, file)
Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 5:21 PM EDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Governor Bill Lee said that although he takes advice on COVID-19 from the White House very seriously, he has his own plan for handling the virus in the state.

Dr. Deborah Birx, with the White House COVID-19 Task Force, encouraged widespread mask use in Tennessee and pointed to the possible closure of bars. Lee, however, has repeatedly said no to a statewide mask mandate and another shutdown.

Lee said he discussed alternative plans with Birx to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 that do not involve a state-wide mask mandate, forcing bars to close or shutting down the economy.

“People wear masks because they believe there is a reason to do so,” said Governor Lee, adding that he’s been to counties that do have a mask mandate in effect and that many people still were not wearing them. “When people begin to understand this will powerfully and productively affect their lives and their livelihoods in a positive way, then they’ll do it.”

Lee said he will continue to let Tennesseans know every day the importance of mask-wearing, but he will not issue a state-wide mask order.

“President Trump has stated that he believes it’s patriotic, he believes that Americans should do it, and I agree with President Trump,” said Lee. However, when asked if he would follow the advice of Dr. Birx to close bars and limit restaurant capacity he said, “That’s not a plan for us now.”

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