Tennessee doctors group turns to lawmakers for mask mandate

Coronavirus infections have surpassed 90 million confirmed cases, as more countries brace for...
Coronavirus infections have surpassed 90 million confirmed cases, as more countries brace for wider spread of more virulent strains of a disease that has now killed nearly 2 million worldwide.(Source: CNN)
Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 7:28 AM EST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A group of Tennessee doctors that has been pushing Gov. Bill Lee for a statewide mask mandate turned its attention to the legislature Tuesday, the first day of the 2021 legislative session.

Speaking to reporters via videoconference, Dr. Diana Sepehri-Harvey, a Franklin primary care physician, addressed Lee’s stance that individual personal responsibility, not a mandate, is the best way for Tennessee to fight the virus.

“This is a global pandemic, so cannot be fought by individuals,” she said. “We need to come together with a cohesive response. We are asking our state representatives to do the job Gov. Lee has not.”

Despite the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in Tennessee, where more than 7,800 people have died, it seemed unlikely that lawmakers would act on the call for a mask mandate. In the GOP-dominant General Assembly on Tuesday, neither the Senate nor the House speaker was requiring masks for lawmakers and few were wearing them.

Sepehri-Harvey is part of a group of more than 2,000 physicians that previously urged Lee to issue a stay-at-home order, which he did at the beginning of April. The group continues to urge Lee to issue a statewide mask mandate and to let science guide policy with regard to the virus.

The state of Tennessee has reported more than 660,000 cases and more than 8,000 deaths, health officials said.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.