Glenn Jacobs: Governor’s executive ‘Stay at Home’ order goes too far

Apr 3, 2020 - by Steve Gerweck

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said Thursday afternoon the county will comply with Gov. Bill Lee’s new “Stay at Home” executive order, but warned it will stress the limits of democracy. 

“I applaud the governor for following through with his convictions and fulfilling his duty to protect the people of Tennessee according to his best judgement,” Jacobs said in a Facebook Live video. “However, I cannot applaud any government monitoring the movements of its people and mandating virtually everything we are allowed to do.

“I understand this is a crisis, but an economic crisis also looms with millions of people out of work and no way to earn a living, many of them due to mandated government shutdowns,” he continued. “We also have a looming mental health crisis as individuals struggle with depression and feelings of hopelessness and isolation, exacerbated by job loss — some have already taken their own lives.” 

Mayor Glenn Jacobs said the county will comply with Gov. Bill Lee’s new eexecutive order, but warned it will stress the limits of democracy.

Jacobs compared today’s coronavirus crisis with the Civil War, quoting President Abraham Lincoln’s most famous line from the Gettysburg Address: “Government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from this earth.”

“Knox County will, of course, comply with this executive order,” he said. “However, with our response to COVID-19, I fear that we may be testing the very limits of President Lincoln’s notion.”

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Jacobs is an ardent libertarian who has not been nearly as aggressive as leaders across the state in trying to tamp down the pandemic, instead focusing on what he says is a balance between public safety and personal liberty.

Two weeks ago, after Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon announced a state of emergency for the city, Jacobs released a video on his Twitter account saying the county would not follow with its own unless it became absolutely necessary.

The declaration would allow the county to move finances and other resources around more easily — something that isn’t necessary yet, he said. He stressed that the Knox County Health Department has the resources it needs.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, left, speaks about the upcoming PPE drives as Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon, right, listens during a press conference held outside … Show more 

Monday, a day after President Donald Trump announced federal guidelines for social distancing would extend until April 30, Jacobs said he “hopes” county businesses can open before then.

“I understand what the president is saying because he is looking at the big picture. We are responsible for the local level,” Jacobs said. “We need a measured response because everything varies greatly and we’re all on a sliding scale. For example, what’s good right now for Nashville might not be right for us. And what’s good for us might not be right for Nashville.”

Knox County remains the only of the state’s largest four counties to not declare a state of emergency.


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