The Long Version
Tennessee and Kentucky-Different Outcomes/Different Approaches
 
 
They differed in approaches from the inception. Tennessee’s Republican Governor, Bill Lee, didn’t declare a state of emergency until March 12, 2020. Kentucky’s Democratic Governor, Andy Beshear, declared a state of emergency 6-days earlier, March 6, 2020. 
 
Now with states doing everything from reopening full-bore, to reopening in stages, to contemplating what reopening will entail and how it will look, the two states, Kentucky and Tennessee, once again find themselves at odds. The question is, can they remain at odds from this point forward? 
 
Governor Lee reopened restaurants April 27 and retail outlets at 50% normal capacity, April 29. Lee said he was opening contact services (salons and barbershops) May 6 in 89 of Tennessee’s 95-counties. 
 
Lee says Tennessee is working around the clock to get Tennesseans back to work in 89 of its 95-counties. He promises a majority of businesses will be in a position to reopen the first week of May (which is right now if your are reading this editorial). We believe him. 
 
Governor Beshear, in our own commonwealth, plans to start opening manufacturing, construction, vehicle or vessel dealerships, and professional services at 50% capacity on May 11, 2020. On that day, he also plans to reopen horse racing (without fans, oh fun) and dog grooming/boarding. 
 
Beshear won’t open retail and houses of worship until May 20, 2020. Starting May 25, 10-person social gatherings will be allowed, barber shops can open, salons, and cosmetology businesses can all resume. 
 
Restaurants, movie theaters, camp grounds, youth sports, summer camps, and daycares won’t open, at all, in Kentucky during phase-one.  All of those businesses will continue to be shut down until phase-two of Governor Beshear’s reopen plan. When those businesses do resume, customers and employees will be asked to wear masks.
 
As you can see, Beshear was quicker to shut-down, and will be much more reticent and reserved in reopening. How have the efforts yielded results to date? That is an interesting analysis. 
 
According to CNN, and as of the date I wrote this piece (May 2, 2020), Kentucky has 4,829 detected cases while Tennessee has 11,600. Clearly Kentucky is decisively kicking Tennessee’s butt in viral spread prevention, even accounting for Tennessee’s much higher population base. 
 
Deaths are quite another matter. Tennessee, which boasts 6,770,000 in population, versus Kentucky’s 4,468,402, and with almost three-times the amount of detected cases, has had fewer deaths. Kentucky has experienced 245-deaths to Tennessee’s 204. 
 
So here we are. If one wants to say Beshear has done a better job of managing the pandemic, that is fair commentary and supported by the statistics. After all, having one-third the amount of cases results in less expense and the need for less allocated, valuable, and expensive resources. 
 
If you want to say Bill Lee has done a better job, that may well be fair commentary too. The name of the game is “lives” would be the argument. Kentucky has lost more “lives” than Tennessee assuming no one is gerrymandering the numbers. We will not comment on the accuracy of either state’s numbers.
 
So, where does that leave us going forward? Well, there are some facts we should consider before making any such plans. 
 
Fact, large segments of Tennesseans work, trade, shop, and regularly visit Kentucky. Fact, the inverse is, at the very least, equally (if not moreso) true. 
 
With the openings of the two areas being on separate clocks, how does it help Kentucky contain the spread of the disease in the commonwealth if we are perpetually invade by Tennesseans not utilizing similar measures? It makes it anywhere from improbable to impossible, doesn’t it?
 
What about Kentuckians going over to Tennessee to dine-out in a restaurant, shop, go to a movie theatre, or any of those other things which feel like luxuries where they were once taken for granted and then returning home to their communities? What will that do to containment efforts? Those efforts are also rendered anywhere from improbable to impossible, wouldn’t you agree?
 
I was discussing this very thing with our newspaper’s general manager, James David Fugate. James David’s comment, and I have always found him quite wise, was that it is similar to being in a swimming pool and thinking you are any less exposed to urine because you are on the end opposite to the kiddie-pool. Both examples equally ridiculous. 
 
If Tennesseans pee in the same pool in which Kentuckians regularly swim, won’t we both end up peed-on? Of course we will. 
 
The simple fact of the matter is, we almost have to be on the same time-table or we just need to lead completely separate lives. Separating these two states, who incidentally play each other this coming Fall in a college football game Kentucky’s AD, Mitch Barnhart, assures season-ticket holders will be played as part of a season guaranteed to start on schedule, is not practical. It isn’t possible either.
 
This is Fletcher Long and you can take this for whatever you find it worth but THAT’S THE LONG VERSION!

 

 

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