Who is in charge?

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HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn (WDEF) – COVID-19 made its debut in the United States in late January and the first case in Tennessee was reported in early March.

At that time, Governor Bill Lee ordered a shelter in place for the residents of Tennessee.

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Over the past few weeks many decisions have been made about how Tennessee is going to reopen amid the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Originally, Chattanooga was not going to reopen unlike Hamilton County but then Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger announced the city would follow along.

News 12 spoke with Senator Todd Gardenhire in an effort to clear up those misconceptions. 

Gardenhire says that no mayor has the right to overrule a Governor’s Instructions or Recommendations.

 “A mayor cannot do that. They can only stay within what the governor outlines to do. In this case, the Governor said you have to go by what the county health department says,” says Todd Gardenhire, TN State Senator ( R ).

Senator Gardenhire explains that the county is an extension of the state government and the city is an extension of the county and state government. 

With the biggest breakouts being concentrated in just a few areas, Senator Gardenhire says Governor Lee has to put his focus on putting out the hotspots- just like you would in a fire.

“ If you don’t get those hotspots out, you won’t get the fire out. That’s what the governor is having to do; is concentrate on those three big area hotspots and now four or five but 75 percent of our cases come from three locations,” says Gardenhire.

With Governor Lee’s new direction,  most businesses are cleared to begin their reopening process.

This may se-em a bit confusing but at the end of the day- the governor decides what categories of businesses may reopen and then it is up to each individual business owner to decide for themselves if and when that will happen.