Dozens rally to demand reopening Tennessee economy for second day

Posted at 8:33 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 21:33:40-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Hours before Governor Bill Lee announced expiring his "Safer at Home" order, dozens of people gathered outside the Capitol for the second day to demand reopening the economy.

While turnout wasn't as large as the first demonstration on Sunday, many still showed up with signs and American flags as they chanted, "Hey, Governor Lee! Reopen Tennessee!" from the streets. The event, which used #FreeTN, was similar to other rallies that happened in other parts of the country with the same message.

"We can't just shut down the country every time something comes along. This has gone on too long," Lebanon resident Heather Tecco told NewsChannel 5.

Tecco said she lost most of her business as a self-employed cleaning service. She argued the order infringed on her civil liberties and that more damage could be done to people's livelihood if everything stayed the same, and in some cases more deaths.

"This isn't about opening up and having a 100,000 people in the auditorium today. This is about letting us get back to work and not taking our freedom away from us," Tecco said. "I don't want a check from the government every month."

Organizers of the event stressed that not only did they want the governor to reopen the economy before the extended date of April 30, but for him to denounce other governors with stricter orders such as Michigan and Kentucky. One organizer used the megaphone to list other points including requesting Lee to reassure that no additional taxes will be implemented to help save the economy. In his words, "trim the fat."

A few hours later, Lee announced in his daily briefing that most businesses in 89 counties are allowed to reopen on May 1, but it doesn't include metropolitan areas like Davidson County.

Adrienne Hitch of BeachWaves Salon said she's hopeful that her business can rebound by next month. She and one of her employees were also a part of the rally concerned small businesses weren't getting the help they needed.

Hitch said she couldn't be certified to receive unemployment and was told it was too late to apply for an SBA or PPP loan.

"I'm thinking about all of my employees who have families to take care of. These people are looking at me," Hitch said.

Brian Mink works for her salon and said they all understand how deadly the virus is, but would like to see the economy reopen carefully and even in increments. They said they take safety precautions seriously and will likely take it a step further by the time their salon in Sumner County will get to open again.

"I'm having to borrow money from my parents and I've never had to do that before," Mink tearfully explained. "It's just hard because I don't know how to pay my bills."

Gov. Lee emphasized that even though businesses will be reopening, it's important for social distancing guidelines to remain in place.


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What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.