NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - As the first doses of the vaccine were distributed to front line workers on Thursday, some Tennessee lawmakers are skeptical over the governor’s handling of the pandemic.
In Thursday's press conference, Gov. Bill Lee made his message clear. He wants Tennesseans to wear a mask.
"One thing that this vaccine will not solve...One thing that it will not cure is selfishness," Lee said.
But some lawmakers, such as State Rep. Gloria Johnson, wonder where was this tone from the Governor all year.
"We have someone who has not done a good job managing the virus here in Tennessee," Johnson said.
Johnson added she's already hearing that people are skeptical about how the governor is distributing the vaccines throughout the state. The state received an early shipment of 975 doses to hold as an emergency backup supply. But in a crisis, Johnson said she feels it should be distributed as soon as possible.
"When you're talking about holding some in reserve and just not immediately getting that vaccine in people's arms... it's troubling to folks," Johnson said.
Dr. Lisa Piercey, with the TN Dept of Health, explained that decision.
"The 975 doses that are held in the emergency backup are for just that. If a hospital receives a case today--and when they open it up, and it's spoiled--out of temperature or broken, we can immediately deploy that to them," Piercey said.
Another strong critique Johnson wants to know: Why is Governor Lee still shying away from a statewide mask mandate?
"No mandate, no restriction, no shutdown is going to stop that kind of behavior. Tennesseans will stop that kind of behavior. And to the degree that they see this urgency of what's happening in our state, we believe that they will," Gov Lee stated Thursday.
"This fend for yourself approach, from Governor Lee, has not been effective in containing the virus... we're #1 in the world...and how does that bode for getting this vaccine out in a timely fashion to the right people," Johnson said.
Lee argued that every state is pushing different strategies to try and curb the spread. He added that he's always open and looking for new strategies to deal with the virus.