Tennessee lawmakers divided on when safer-at-home order should end

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — With Gov. Bill Lee’s executive ‘safer-at-home’ order approaching its expiration, Tennessee lawmakers are wondering if now is a good time to reboot.

State Rep. Jason Zachary shared his thoughts in a tweet Saturday, saying it’s time to open the economy.

“We have to look at how we can begin to open up commerce. In Tennessee, we have 250 thousand Tennesseans who have lost jobs in the last 3 weeks and while we have to take this very seriously in terms of the coronavirus, we also have to look at the incredible economic impact this is having on families.” said Zachary, a Knoxville Republican.

RELATED: Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon anticipates extending ‘safer-at-home’ order

Zachary suggests a slow opening of the economy.

“As of this morning, we have 28 active cases in Knox county out of 470 thousand people so if we take cautious steps and begin a slow opening of the economy as we move into May, we can do that in a way where we keep people safe but we also start to bring the economy back to save the jobs that are hanging in the balance and also get those who are out of work back to work.” he said.

But other state representatives feel differently. State Rep. Gloria Johnson says it’s still too soon to stop social distancing practices.

 “Our economy is going to suffer even greater losses if we reopen too soon. My thoughts on a gradual model, we would have to be in a position to have everything we need for that. We would have to have all the PPE, we would have to have testing available for every single person so that we could track those tests and track those positives and know that those people are quarantining.” Johnson said.

The executive order expires at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14. Johnson, a Knoxville Democrat, says she hopes the governor will extend it.

“There’s a feeling with a lot of people that he will do it because it’s the right thing to do to save lives.” Johnson said.

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