Wilson County Schools have postponed all graduation ceremonies due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and uncertainty when it will end, the district announced Monday.
“This decision is very difficult to make, but it is the most responsible action at this time,” district spokesman Bart Barker said in an emailed announcement. “The health and safety of individuals and their families is the first priority in making this decision. Our time frame for releasing information about the date and location of the new ceremony is unknown at this time. “
District Director Donna Wright had previously said that several ways would be found to provide senior closure in their final year at school, with travel cancellations and senior proms.
“We will respect our seniors for their graduation achievements later on,” Barker said.
Starting at 2 pm Monday, COVID-19 has claimed 65 lives in Tennessee. While none of them had been in Wilson County, the number of infected people was reported at 97, up from 93 on Sunday.
Across the state, there were 3,802 cases, up from 3,633 Sunday. Of those, 356 have recovered and 352 have been hospitalized.
Vanderbilt Hospital spokesman Wilson County Traci Pope said in an email Monday the hospital had nine COVID-19 patients, and six of the nine patients were from the Gallatin Rehabilitation and Healing Center. Most of the 25 patients were brought here when the center was closed to be cleaned after the outbreak had returned.
During a Monday afternoon press conference, Lee said that his order to stay at home appeared to have an effect.
“In the last 48 hours we have seen some positive trends in our country and throughout the country,” he said.
The University of Washington COVID-19 impact model has been updated and shows that Tennessee hospital beds will currently be sufficient to handle caseloads. Last week, Lee said the country needed 7,000 extra beds.
This model’s estimated death toll also fell from 3,400 in August to 587. The crisis is expected to peak on April 15 in the state, faster than projected on April 19-20.
Despite good news, Lee urged caution.
“We still need all the Tennesseans to stay home if they are able to do it,” he said.
On Monday, a trust network, community and labor organization across the state urged Lee to appeal for his emergency force and suspend what he called “overly restrictive state law” on local government officials to give them more authority to deal with the virus pandemic corona.
The group said in an open letter to the governor that local governments “need to have every tool in the toolbox available at this critical time” and also said over the past decade “more and more state laws were passed which limited the government’s local freedom on various issues.
“This law now limits the ability of local governments to address the needs of their people who are always changing in this emergency,” the letter said.
The Group asks Lee to use the power he has under the Tennessee Code Annotated Section 58-2-107 to suspend laws that limit the ability of local governments to ensure employees have access to paid sick time and expand the eligibility of a property tax freeze and “ensure immigrants feel safely interact with the local health department. “
And they warn Tennesseans “who feel sick or show symptoms tend to tell employers that they are sick and stay at home if they do not have paid leave. The choice for many hardworking Tennesses is to risk their health and the health of others or face financial ruin, including the loss of their homes. “
After days of being urged by panicked Tennessee doctors, Lee on Thursday issued a home stay order for Tennessee, citing a worsening trend in social mobility which he said showed too many residents who did not take the pandemic seriously enough.
With local governments heavily dependent on sales taxes, especially those that depend on the now devastated tourism industry, the group said “many of these districts could be forced to choose between raising property taxes or laying off teachers, public health professionals, police officers, firefighters and another important civil servant.
“Current state law prevents local governments from expanding criteria for who qualifies for a property tax freeze program, making it impossible to provide temporary assistance to those who are not working from COVID-19 responses,” the network letter states.
Regarding public health, the letter said that because of what he called state law “punishment”, “the immigrant community became afraid of government institutions and places intended to keep them safe and might hesitate to access testing and treatment for fear of meeting immigration enforcement. and separated from their families. “
The group also said local governments “can provide the necessary stability and stimulus and will continue to spend on important projects” by prioritizing hiring non-employed local residents “to provide the most targeted assistance, but current state law prohibits the practice. “
They also advocated for automatic voter registration and postal voting, allowed the city court to delay the eviction process and asked Lee to direct emergency funds toward leases and mortgage assistance for affected Tennesseans and freeze the closure of utilities.
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