Former Sen. Bill Frist joins doctors urging Gov. to issue stay-at-home order

Bill Frist
Posted at 1:21 PM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 14:38:08-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist has joined the list of doctors urging Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee to issue a mandatory stay-at-home order amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Frist added his name to the petition of more than 2,000 doctors who sent a letter to Lee nearly two weeks ago recommending a mandatory stay-at-home order.

A former heart and lung transplant surgeon, Frist may be the most prominent physician in Tennessee.

Dr. Aaron Milstone, one of the leaders of the campaign, said the addition of Frist's name "delivers an even stronger message that the medical community is united."

"Dr. Bill Frist adding his name to our petition shows Gov. Lee within his own party leadership that a leader in that party leadership now acknowledges that lives and the economy are intertwined, and you cannot save one without the other," Milstone said.

Lee announced his "safer-at-home" order some 10 days after Tennessee's medical establishment first began begging him to take dramatic action to slow the spread of the virus across the state.

The order mandates businesses or organizations that do not perform essential services to close public access and encouraged them to use delivery, takeout, online or telephone operations.

However, Lee stopped short of a stay-at-home order that required Tennesseans to stay at home unless they are performing essential jobs or going out for essentials such as food and medicine.

Read more here: Gov. Lee orders statewide 'Safer-at-Home' order closing nonessential businesses amid COVID-19

One of the more vocal advocates for the shelter-at-home order, Milstone previously told NewsChannel 5 Investigates that Lee's actions do not go far enough.

"A stay-at-home suggestion is not a stay-at-home order," Milstone told reporters Thursday.

Data from the University of Washington shows that, in Tennessee, the outbreak is expected to reach peak on April 26th. At that point, the state could need almost 19,000 hospital beds, but it only has 7,800.

The state may need 2,900 intensive care beds, but there are just have 629 available. In addition, the number of deaths could reach 192 a day, reaching a total of 4,985 by June.


See all our coronavirus coverage here


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.