Letters: Tennessee’s pandemic predicament

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No. 1 in COVID

Congratulations Johnson City and the state of Tennessee! We’ve hit the big times! On national news our local medical center was highlighted as working amidst a major hotspot for the Covid-19 pandemic. And Tennessee now is the leading state in infection rate (per WLVT TV in Knoxville), having now exceeded Rhode Island. And Tennessee now has over 92% of all ICU beds filled; with certainly more infections on the way, where will they go? We should be so proud of our stellar record.

But are we concerned? Not likely. Our governor, Bill Lee, still stubbornly insists that a mask mandate and other governmental action are not necessary. And too many citizens are behaving in ways that simply increase the infection.

My wife and I recently went to see the Christmas lights in Founder’s Square. Virtually no one had masks on and were jammed in much closer than six feet apart, so we wisely chose to stay in the car. Simply being “outside” is no panacea. And on the way home we passed restaurant after restaurant jammed with people — even though sharing indoor space is one of the best ways to transmit the virus. And at Kroger, despite a sign saying masks are required, we noticed customer after customer going in and out without masks.

Perhaps a little more guidance and even mandates from Nashville would help. Maybe then more of us would listen. And maybe stores should actually enforce their mask requirements.

Or maybe we just like more of our friends and neighbors dying.

MARK A. MATSON

Johnson City

Lee is doing it right

Saturday’s (Dec. 18) editorial was just a hit piece on Governor Lee. You can rightfully question policy and leadership if you choose but you attacked a man’s integrity and heart. There are no facts presented other than a quote which is misrepresented. Citing unnamed critics, of which many are just political opponents, has no merit. There is no mention of what the governor should have done other than a veiled reference to a statewide mask mandate. Which is moot because one is in effect in most counties. I doubt the people would have paid any more attention to a statewide mandate as opposed to a local one. I am not hearing these criticisms from our local leaders.

Governor Lee has struck a reasonable balance between safety and not totally closing down the economy. He has encouraged mask use and personal responsibility. Local mandates are more in line with personal freedoms than a state or federal mandate. It is much easier to go down to the county offices than travel to Nashville if you have a complaint. It seems the Johnson City Press would encourage incoming President Biden to issue a federal mandate.

I stand with Governor Lee in being disappointed in my fellow citizens for being careless but do not choose to trade freedom for safety. Wear a mask and save lives.

CRAIG KIRKLAND

Johnson City

Action needed

Bravo to the Johnson City Press for calling out Governor Bill Lee as a leader of “inaction” during this pandemic.

RICHDA MCNUTT

Johnson City

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