Archives     Advertise     Editorial Calendar      Advertiser Index     Subscribe     Contact Us    

Op-Ed: Putting Politics Before Sound Policy is a Deadly Strategy for Tennessee


With COVID case counts rising across the state ... and, to be fair, the country ... the silence coming from Governor Bill Lee's office and that of the Tennessee Department of Health is deafening.

Commissioner Lisa Piercey refused to answer WKRN reporter Gerald Harris' questions yesterday about anything - mask mandates or recommendations, rising hospitalizations and death rate, increasing illness in children. All of his questions about the current COVID surge were met with silence. Yet, these shouldn't be hard questions for the commissioner, a pediatrician, to answer.

I'm not a physician, but even I know the correct answers: We need to get every eligible person vaccinated. Any preventable death in any age population, but especially among our children, is unacceptable. The virus hasn't gone away and will continue to mutate, because that's what viruses do, unless we can get enough people vaccinated or following proven mitigation measures like social distancing and wearing masks. Limiting the number of targets available to the virus will only serve to help us all keep businesses open and our citizens safe.

Should children wear masks in schools? I recognize this is a sticking point for parents, but the American Academy of Pediatrics says 'yes,' so I think we lean into their expert advice. I also know that children 'hating to wear a mask' is more likely their parents hating it. Kids, unlike adults, are incredibly adaptable. And if you talk to parents whose children have wound up in the ICU, they will surely say wearing a mask is infinitely better than seeing their child's face being covered by oxygen tubes or a ventilator.

Commissioner Piercey could have given any of those answers, but she didn't. Governor Lee, our pro-life protagonist, could show that he truly believes in the sanctity of life ... even after a child is born. Two children in West Tennessee died this past week, and death counts (a lagging indicator) are beginning to tick up as hospitalizations continue to increase. Why isn't the governor out front every day pleading with people to get vaccinated and mask up in an effort to save lives?

The most obvious answer is this has become political along the way. From the outrage by some legislators over sharing information and the firing of the state's chief vaccine official to House Speaker Cameron Sexton's not-so-subtle funding threats to any school system who puts in place a mask mandate and the deafening silence of the state's 'leadership' on evidence-based policy measures to meet and try to defeat this crisis - Tennessee has put politics before sound policy, and it's a deadly strategy.


Related Articles:

Recent Articles

Grant Creates Center for Maternal, Pediatric Precision Therapeutics

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has been awarded a five-year, $6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to serve as a center of excellence for Maternal and Pediatric Precision in Therapeutics (MPRINT).

Read More

Change in Respiratory Care Strategies for Preterm Infants Improves Health Outcomes

A decade's worth of data shows that neonatologists are shifting the type of respiratory support they utilize for preterm infants, a move that could lead to improved health outcomes.

Read More

The Fear of the Unknown: Anxiety and the Upcoming School Year

Nurture the Next Discusses Ways to Help Children Cope as they Return to School

Read More

Older Age, Chronic Co-Morbidities Associated with More Severe COVID Disease in Children

Over the course of the pandemic, researchers nationwide noticed differences in COVID-19 disease between children and adults.

Read More

Envision Healthcare Shares Resources to Support Clinician Mental Health

National Medical Group Uses Systematic Professional Well-Being Approach to Support Clinicians' Wellness

Read More

Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt Debuts New State-of-the-Art Maternal Fetal Clinic

Expectant parents never imagine they'll face tough decisions about treatments or surgeries for their unborn babies following a potentially devastating fetal diagnosis. But for thousands of families each year, this is a harsh reality.

Read More

Answering the Call to Train More Physicians

Local healthcare leaders address the growing need for doctors nationwide

Read More

Back to School with COVID

After enjoying a taste of 'return to normal' earlier this year, the Delta variant has changed the trajectory of the pandemic and plunged communities into crisis again.

Read More

Addressing Kids' Health in Tennessee

New plans designed to impact social determinants of health among Tennessee's kids

Read More

ACS Updates Children's Surgery Verification Program Standards

Updated standards from ACS Children's Surgery Verification Program emphasize new patient care expectations for participating hospitals.

Read More

Email Print



Powered by Bondware
News Publishing Software

The browser you are using is outdated!

You may not be getting all you can out of your browsing experience
and may be open to security risks!

Consider upgrading to the latest version of your browser or choose on below: