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Opinion | Gov. Lee’s bungling of COVID-19 crisis continues | Richard Ransom

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee continues to make decisions about a global health pandemic that go against doctors’ recommendations, says Local 24 News anchor Richard Ransom
Credit: AP

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In Thursday’s Ransom Note: the politics of public health.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee couldn't help himself this week, declaring the COVID-19 public emergency over. He ended mask mandates in all rural counties and asked the six most populated ones to do the same by Memorial Day. He also made the announcement alone, without his health commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey. Hmmmmm.

Square that with news that cases are up, vaccinations are way down, and today we learned the India variant is now in Shelby County. Have you heard what's happening in India? Not long ago, its government declared the virus was beaten, but now it's facing the worst COVID crisis of any country on Earth. Mass crematoriums can't keep up with all the dead bodies, hospitals are out of oxygen, patients are two to a bed, assuming they're not turned away. Also concerning, the variant is hitting more young adults, and everyone from two-month-old babies to fully vaccinated doctors are getting infected.

The job is "governor" Lee, not "doctor" Lee. All the doctors we’ve interviewed say his declaration was premature, maybe he should listen.