Tenn. doctor asks Lee to 'stop ignoring health professionals,' wants statewide mask order in place

Posted at 6:55 AM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 08:04:11-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — A Tennessee doctor is calling on Gov. Bill Lee to do more to help combat COVID-19, saying hospitals are overwhelmed.

Dr. James Parnell, of the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, said for starters, he wants to see a statewide mask mandate put in place. He also wants to make the emergency backup supply of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine available to all area hospitals now.

Dr. Parnell says hospitalizations are extremely high right now. In his emergency room, he says there aren't enough beds for COVID-19 patients and non-COVID patients. Also, staff members are falling ill left and right.

Dr. Parnell is pleading for Gov. Lee to “stop ignoring health professionals” and to stop with the “’fend for yourself’ approach to the COVID crisis."

Other area doctors are also spreading the message.

"We come to you not complaining about the long hours, not complaining about the trials and tribulations of the job, and there are many. We come to you lamenting the endless death and destruction that we are seeing every day. It's tearing us apart. It's preventable, we need your help, please,” said pulmonologist Dr. Jason Martin.

This group of doctors says it's likely one in every 100 people in Tennessee has COVID-19 right now, and they're fearful that over the next few months, more people will become hospitalized.


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.