The president of Meharry Medical College is expressing skepticism over the decision to begin reopening the Metro Nashville economy.
Dr. James Hildreth says if state and local leaders are going to insist on bringing people back to work, there must be a plan to keep workers safe.
“If you happen to work in a grocery store … meat packing factory or any other place where you’re going to be in close proximity to people, you need PPE just like the health care workers need it,” says Hildreth. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s unethical and unacceptable to reopen the economy without making provisions for people on the front lines to protect themselves.”
Access to PPE and hand sanitizer has been a frequent concern since the pandemic began, although some business leaders say supply is beginning to catch up with demand.
“About a month ago, businesses reported it was very difficult to find hand sanitizer, and when they found it, the price was exorbitant,” says Jim Brown, the Tennessee State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business. “The last few weeks, supplies seem to be catching up as manufacturers and distilleries have shifted their operations to produce hand sanitizer.”
Brown also says state leaders have actively worked to provide assistance to businesses who need access to sanitizer supplies and PPE.
Gov. Bill Lee’s Unified Command Group recently began distributing masks to local health departments, and are planning to distribute millions more in the weeks to come.
Metro Public Health told WPLN News that there was no plan to provide sanitizing supplies to local businesses, but that they weren’t aware of any shortages.