Public Health Mandates and the TN General Assembly

I really was going to remain silent but after General Powell passed and #Chump weighed in I felt compelled to write a letter to my state representative and share with the public. A recluse with computer savvy can be annoying…

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Here is the complete letter.

Dear Senator Gardenhire,

Initially, I was not going to respond to the special session of the State Legislature and was prepared to place local news on mute and ignore the local paper, Time Free Press, headlines of coverage, until Former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, passed away from complications of COVID-19. But not only has COVID-19 made me brush up on Immunology and Biochemistry, I brushed up on my history and found out my state representatives for my district. Gen. Powell was an elder statesman at 84. He had battled terrorists; he had a year’s long battle and had almost won that battle against cancer or multiple myeloma.  I am also a veteran and although his testimony about the status of Iraqi military capabilities was problematic, Saddam Hussein was captured Osama bin Laden was captured and killed, mission accomplished and that’s all I have to say about that.

Gen. Powell represented what America is contrary to what members of the former administration says or implies. He truly is a product of immigrant parents, the public school system, ROTC, and the US Army. But I am having difficulty processing the reason why he passed away from COVID-19, undoubtedly the Delta variant. His death could’ve been prevented.  He was Fully vaccinated however his immune system was compromised.  Since we don’t have a testing regimen, people are still walking around unvaccinated, and people are still walking around without a mask. Therefore, people like Gen. Powell were exposed to the worst serial killer, COVID-19, and he suffered needlessly and passed away.

I get it, Tennesseans are contrary and will not be talked to death. I’m all for equal rights however you can’t have it both ways. If you can say that is a human right for an individual to walk around mask-less, to walk around unvaccinated, but in the same breath you can’t restrict a women’s right to choose an abortion or voter restriction under the guise of safeguarding the safest voting system in the world to basically disenfranchise those that don’t share your own political views.  But I digress…we are all adult citizens that need to function positively in society, and we must protect each other.  We are still in a pandemic; this is a public health issue that requires that we protect each other.  It’s not political, COVID-19 has no political affiliation, it kills Democrats and Republicans equally.  That is a fact.

If you’re not going to test, if you don’t wear your mask, if you’re not getting vaccinated, you won’t stay at home, you won’t wash your hands, but you demand to receive healthcare overtaxing a system, and burning out providers because you won’t act responsibly.  These are the facts, and all this other stuff is nothing but smoke and vapor, without substance.  And it takes away from the real issue people really won’t do as they should because if you leave it up to them they will do the right thing and  700,000 people won’t die.  Oh wait, that has already happened. Also, how can you mandate a privately held business, to not take the steps to protect its workers and the general public with a vaccine mandate? Get vaccinated and booster, your chances of not dying so you can live to work is kind of a no brainer.

I have no problem following the rules if they make sense.  Staying at home to decrease my exposure makes sense because I don’t have a testing regimen currently. Foregoing any significant traveling until I can get my booster even though I am fully vaccinated it’s not a problem. Also, enduring the side eye while out in the county and particularly Hixson because I still wear my mask in public (granted its either the Cowboys or Biden/Harris but that is my choice) I will still do it. I was tested twice due to an exposure in January and then prior to a procedure at Memorial Hixson, thank God I was negative both times. 

I know it’s human nature to want to be free people of restriction and are tired of the pandemic. But we can’t expect to truly emerge from this pandemic if we are not willing to do what is necessary to end it.  We as responsible members of society must protect people like Gen. Powell. We must follow the science and do what is right and makes sense. People won’t necessarily do what is right unless you mandate it. I don’t think it is legal or shouldn’t be legal to tell a publicly traded company not to do what it is necessary to protect its workers and the public. We have three safe vaccines as a tool to stop this serial killer in Covid-19. 

If the state majority GOP seeks to reverse the restrictions due to COVID to pander to loud and mis-informed group of people against reason and science that makes no sense. Stop calling it protecting human rights and free will and in the same breath passing other laws restricting basic rights and removing social safety-nets. Aren’t lawmakers to serve the public good? What is good about removing public health protections or dismantling public health safeguards?


Felicia M. Baxter MD MBA

Chattanooga Resident

Progressive/Moderate Democrat

PS No,  I didn’t vote for you as a senator.  But I would hope you would use common sense and science to do the right thing for most of the citizens of Tennessee.

Furthermore, I don’t even expect you to answer this letter, but I am hopeful there are other concerned citizens like me that will also take the opportunity to contact you and consider our words as you make the decision and as the debates go on the Senate floor of Tennessee during  the next week or so.


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