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Tennessee Governor’s Next Challenge: Stomping Out COVID Conspiracy Theories

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Misinformation is spreading among Tennessee Republican lawmakers, like that the governor is planning for “quarantine camps.” So his office is trying to cut off the “conspiracy theories unfortunately being shared as fact.”

In an email to legislators sent Thursday and obtained by WPLN News, staffer Brent Easley tells lawmakers that an executive order signed Friday to relieve hospital staffing shortages (without explanation at the time) is being distorted. Among the claims are:

  • That it creates quarantine camps.
  • That the National Guard plans to round up people who are unvaccinated for quarantine or forced vaccinations.
  • That it lays the groundwork for permanent lockdowns.

The letter also addresses a rumor that COVID-19 vaccines are being given to livestock to vaccinate citizens through meat consumption, a false claim that is unrelated to the executive order. Rather, it’s based on an Associated Press story about how Tennessee incentives farmer to vaccinate cattle against other diseases.

The executive order issued last week does allow for “temporary quarantine and isolation facilities” to be built. But the governor’s office says that’s primarily for hospitals to expand with tents in parking garages, as some have done. The governor’s office says another section, which mentions mental health commitment procedures, is intended to allow for telehealth assessments and not expand existing laws in a substantive way.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee National Guard has been helping with COVID testing throughout most of the pandemic. One section of the executive order allows the Guard to take on more roles, including driving ambulances.

“All of these examples and related rumors are demonstrably false,” Easley writes. “We are responding to constituents who reach out with concerns and hope you will join us in sharing the facts.”

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