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Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Charity Painter, center, from The Partnership for Families, Children and Adults interprets for Governor Lee. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee held a press briefing at the UTC University Center, concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, on April 3, 2020.

It's become a bit cliché to bemoan the politicization of this pandemic.

Political jabs are everywhere and are especially scathing when a data point appears to prove a particular point of view.

Chattanooga is not immune. Over the weekend, social media posts from Mayor Andy Berke's inner circle appeared to celebrate the "non-essential" status and shutdown of Hobby Lobby, a massive retail chain owned by a billionaire beloved or despised for his staunch Christian values. Really, City Hall?

Heck, columnists everywhere — be they in New York City, Washington, D.C., or at 400 East 11th St. — have column inches to fill, right? Everybody's a public health expert, a supply chain genius, a perfect predictor of disease spread these days.

The bickering is tired — and magnified by social media. At worst, it could come across as cheering for the worst to make your side stronger.

(READ MORE: Gov. Lee: Lower COVID-19 death rate estimates 'good news' but Tennessee crisis not over)

There have been mistakes made, and our leaders will bear them, now and through history. There have been successes, too.

But the problem with keeping score in real time in a pandemic is that no one knows what score we should be keeping. That target changes multiple times a week.

To that point, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has worn a bull's-eye for not reacting quickly enough.

The governor got crushed by the folks wanting a complete shutdown in the state sooner rather than later. Well, Lee issued an executive order requiring people to stay home unless they were engaged in "essential activities." This is in effect until April 14. Who knows if his timing was spot on? Many in the medical community were outraged he took weeks to make the decision, but others cautioned that hasty action could damage the economy worse than it already is.

And the umbrella of "Listen to the experts" offers little advice since the goals of fighting for our lives and fighting for a semblance of normalcy are in a lot of ways in conflict.

Well, does he now get credit for his timing, since the stats at covid19.healthdata.org as of Monday afternoon have the state's peak looming April 15 with projections of more than 1,232 hospital beds needed and 245 ICU beds needed? Both numbers are well below the available hospital beds (7,812) and ICU beds (629) available.

(READ MORE: Hamilton County responds to Gov. Lee's criticism, says COVID-19 testing is 'running smoothly')

That's not a defense of Lee, per se, as much as an acknowledgment that keeping up with the expert "models" can be maddening.

There's nothing easy about leading a city, county, state, nation, let alone businesses, schools and a complex health care system through this pandemic.

But spending an inordinate amount of time focusing on blame — especially for political purposes — is counterproductive.

And worse than that, it's more of the same political garbage that made Donald Trump electable in the first place.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com and follow him on Twitter at @jgreesontfp.

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Jay Greeson

 

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