Mike Stewart

State Rep. Mike Stewart D-Nashville (center) speaks to reporters Monday, urging state officials to tailor its response to recent coronavirus cases in Middle Tennessee.

A total of 30 Democratic state representatives and senators have called on Gov. Bill Lee to issue a “safer at home” order, where Tennesseans would be required to stay at home for a set period of time, and all businesses deemed nonessential would be required to close statewide.

The call to action, which was invoked due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the state, was detailed in an open letter sent to the governor’s desk Wednesday. In the letter, the House and Senate Democratic Caucuses argued the measure to be an “essential step to flatten the curve” of the increasing number of coronavirus cases.

“Right now, the state has a patchwork of orders constructed by municipal governments, most of whom do not have equitable access to medical, scientific, economic, and legal experts,” the letter reads. “We would request that you issue a statewide “safer at home” order. 

“Moreover, many of our communities need your Administration to work with neighboring states to ensure that these measures are not undermined due to poor coordination. Especially in light of recent public communications related to re-opening public spaces, it is essential that Tennesseans receive clear and unmistakable guidance about what is essential to stay safe.”

Currently, more than 191 million people have been ordered to stay at home across 19 different states, with some of the first states to enact a statewide “safer at home” order being California, Illinois and Washington. While Lee has fallen short of issuing such an order, he has ordered all dine-in restaurants, bars and gyms to close until at least April 6, and has recommended all school districts remain closed until at least April 24.

While the Democratic Caucuses’ letter did call those measures a good first step, they urged more action would be required in order to successfully “flatten the curve” of coronavirus cases.

Rep. Glen Casada would not comment on the letter. Sen. Jack Johnson and Rep. Sam Whitson did respond to requests for comment.

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