Gov. Bill Lee on Monday ordered non-essential businesses to close and strongly suggested Tennessee residents stay home in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.

He called it a “safer at home” order, but stressed it’s not a mandated “shelter in place” order to protect personal liberties.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said, “Painful as it is, Governor Lee is right. Everything I’ve learned as chairman of the United States Senate Health Committee persuades me to support his decision.

“Staying at home is an essential step one in containing the disease and saving lives. New federal laws will help keep many payrolls coming and relieve some financial burdens.

“I am hard at work on step two, a new ‘Manhattan Project’ to produce the largest possible number of COVID-19 tests with quick results that will detect and isolate the few who are sick and care for them so the rest of America can go back to work, back to school and out to eat.

“At the same time, Congress has already put $11 billion into step three: a massive effort to create treatments and hopefully a vaccine.”

Lee’s order will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday and extend through April 14.

He also ordered the temporary closure of salons, spas, concert venues, theaters and other indoor recreational facilities.

As of 2 p.m. Monday, the Tennessee Department of Health showed 1,834 coronavirus cases, 148 patients hospitalized and 13 deaths in the state, including one case in Henry County and an out-of-county patient with the virus in Henry County Medical Center.

In area counties, Carroll has five cases; Benton, three; Weakley, one; Montgomery, 13; and Dickson, 12.

Residents can still leave home for groceries, take-out food from restaurants and medical, household and automobile supplies.

Going outside and playing sports are OK if people use “social distancing,” which is hard to do on a playground.

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