Gov. Lee creates Economic Recovery Group to aid in reboot of Tennessee economy

Posted at 3:41 PM, Apr 16, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Governor Bill Lee announced the creation of his Economic Recovery Group. It is a joint effort between state departments, members of the legislature and leaders from the private sector to build guidance to safely reboot Tennessee’s economy.

“COVID-19 has not only created a public health crisis, it has hurt thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of hardworking Tennesseans,” said Gov. Lee. “As we work to safely open Tennessee’s economy, this group will provide guidance to industries across the state on the best ways to get Tennesseans back to work.”

The governor says, as of now, there are not any concrete plans on opening the state, but he plans to rely heavily on the group for that.

"We're looking to the Economic Recovery Group to provide a strategy to a phased opening...We haven't made decisions yet on how we'll reopen specifically but certainly geography will factor in to that," said Gov. Lee.

Lee appointed Tennessee Department of Tourism Development Commissioner Mark Ezell to lead the group. Sammie Arnold, Assistant Commissioner of Rural Development, will serve as the chief of staff.

TN AFL-CIO President Billy Dycus issued the following statement criticizing the range of representation in the group.

"Governor Lee's idea of an Economic Recovery Group is not only incomplete but also an inaccurate snapshot of Tennessee's economy. The fact that there is not a single labor or employee representative listed speaks volumes about his true priorities. Governor Lee is clearly more concerned with ensuring that his business associates and friends make the important decisions and get back on their feet first, rather than our state's working families. It is both critical and frankly non-negotiable that labor have a seat at the table during these conversations. Until that happens, it is impossible for our state's economy to begin to fully work for all Tennesseans."

The Recovery Group members are listed below:

Lee Administration Representatives:

Mark Ezell, Director
Sammie Arnold, Chief of Staff
House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R – Portland)
Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R – Franklin)
Brandon Gibson, Senior Advisor to Governor Lee
Bob Rolfe, Department of Economic and Community Development
Greg Gonzales, Department of Financial Institutions
David Gerregano, Department of Revenue
Dr. Charles Hatcher, Department of Agriculture
Dr. Jeff McCord, Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Hodgen Mainda, Department of Commerce and Insurance
Tony Niknejad, Governor’s Office
Brig. Gen. Scott Brower, COVID-19 Unified Command
Dr. Morgan McDonald, TN Dept. of Health, Deputy Commissioner
Butch Eley, Department of Finance & Administration

Industry Representatives:

Jim Brown, National Federation of Independent Business
Bradley Jackson, TN Chamber of Commerce
Beverly Robertson, President & CEO of the Memphis Chamber of Commerce
Rob Ikard, TN Grocers & Convenience Store Association
Rob Mortensen, TN Hospitality & Tourism Association
Colin Barrett, TN Bankers Association
Fred Robinson, TN Credit Union League
Dave Huneryager, TN Trucking Association
Will Cromer, TN Hospital Association
Mayor Kevin Davis, President of TN County Services Association
Mayor Jill Holland, President of TN Municipal League
Jeff Aiken, TN Farm Bureau
Tari Hughes, Center for Non-Profit Management
Roland Myers, TN Retail Association
Clay Crownover, President & CEO of Associated Builders & Contractors of Tennessee


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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.