POLK COUNTY, Tenn. – Polk County Schools are closed to the public from August 30 to September 3 because of COVID-19 in the district.
The school system cited “severe staffing shortages and student absences related to COVID-19 and other sicknesses.
Students and teachers won’t be participating in remote learning this week either due to the governor’s regulations. Last week, Governor Bill Lee stated he didn’t plan to issue an executive order that allowed for online learning.
Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn has gone on to clarify that entire schools can close, but districts cannot. If an individual school closes, then it doesn’t have to use the allotted inclement weather days. However, the rule doesn’t apply to entire districts.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced a new digital tool to help inform Tennesseans when they will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“In addition to creating a strong infrastructure for distribution, we’re currently one of the top states in the nation for total doses administered, vaccinating more than 150,000 Tennesseans in just two weeks,” said Gov. Lee. “This tool is yet another step we’re taking to provide Tennesseans with critical information as our vaccine supply increases and more phases become eligible.”
The eligibility tool allows users to opt-in to receive updates and notifications about their vaccine phase and provides risk-based and age-based phase information at the county level.
Vaccine phases and the current estimated vaccine timeline can be found here.
The eligibility tool and COVID-19 information can be accessed at https://covid19.tn.gov/.
Image courtesy of Christian Emmer.
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee is quarantining with the First Lady after one of his security detail members tested positive for COVID-19.
The governor has tested negative and feels well, but decided to quarantine for the sake of others until further notice.
Current protocols in the governor’s office include masks and social distancing. No other staff are believed to be positive at this time.
Below is the statement from the governor’s office:
“Today, a member of the Governor’s Executive Security Detail has tested positive for COVID-19. Gov. Lee is feeling well and has tested negative for COVID-19 but out of an abundance of caution, he is quarantining at home with the First Lady until further notice. Governor’s Office protocol requires masks and social distancing and no staff are believed to be positive at this time. The regularly scheduled, in-person press briefing will be canceled and Gov. Lee will provide an update to reporters by phone this afternoon with Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey.”
This morning, The doctors address a comment left on one of the Ask The Doc Segments. What drugs are good for fighting off Covid-19 or do we just wait on a vaccine? The Doctors also address the President and first lady testing positive for Covid-19. What do the Doctors have to say about testing positive with no symptoms? When could he have contracted the virus? How long has he had it? All this and more on Ask The Doc!
This morning, the doctors discuss how colleges are dealing with Covid-19. When a Student tests positive, the colleges continue classes and give the infected student their own quarantined dorm. Is this the approach we should be taking with everything? Should we worry over the numbers? Hear Doctor Whaley and Doctor Tidman’s point of view on this right here on Ask the Doc!
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee called for the Tennessee General Assembly to convene on Monday, August 10, 2020 for a special session to address COVID-19 liability protections, telehealth services, and laws governing the Capitol grounds.
“As COVID-19 continues to present unique challenges, we feel it is in the best interest of the state to convene a special session to address liability protections and telehealth,” said Gov. Lee. “I thank Lt. Gov. McNally and Speaker Sexton for their continued partnership as we work towards an efficient, productive assembly.”
The special session will address extending COVID-19 liability protections in order to provide legal clarity and certainty for health care providers, businesses, schools, non-profits, and others.
“With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to present challenges for our people and our economy, it is now more important than ever that Tennessee businesses, hospitals, churches, and schools have COVID-19 liability protection,” said Lt. Gov. McNally. “The last thing small business owners, pastors, doctors, and school superintendents need to worry about are frivolous lawsuits which would further impede their ability to do their jobs in this difficult time. I am grateful Gov. Lee called this session to address COVID-19 liability and other issues critical to our state. I am committed to working deliberately and efficiently with Gov. Lee, Speaker Sexton, and all members of the House and Senate to pass legislation on these issues and get our members back home quickly and safely.”
Lawmakers will address the expansion of telehealth services to Tennesseans and encourage insurers to cover clinically appropriate, medically necessary services provided via telehealth.
“I agree with Gov. Lee’s decision to call a special session,” said House Speaker Cameron Sexton. “We are looking forward to coming back and finishing the people’s business to increase access to tele-health services, and to protect businesses, churches, academic and health facilities from baseless lawsuits during the ongoing pandemic. I am very appreciative of the call to strengthen existing laws against those who deface property, who escalate peaceful protests into acts of aggression and those who seek violence towards law enforcement and judicial members. The House is committed to working with Gov. Lee and his administration, as well as Lt. Gov. McNally and the Senate to safely, efficiently, and effectively address these timely issues for the benefit of Tennessee and Tennesseans.”
Lawmakers will also address laws governing Capitol grounds and surrounding areas that have recently been subject to vandalism, defacement, and unlawful overnight camping.
The full special session call may be viewed here.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group announced $150 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds will be made available to Tennessee non-profits to assist their ongoing efforts to address the ongoing health and economic impacts of COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has placed enormous strain on all aspects of our society, and non-profit organizations are no different. Non-profits play a vital role in ensuring Tennesseans’ needs are met in times of crisis, and it’s imperative these organizations receive financial support to continue their work,” said Gov. Lee. “The Tennessee Community CARES Program will help alleviate the duress non-profits are under and ensure they continue to support their communities.”
“Tennessee’s non-profit community has been on the frontlines of this pandemic from the beginning,” said Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge). “Non-profits consistently amplify the state’s efforts in addressing Tennessee’s explicit needs during the COVID crisis. They are also critical in filling the gaps by caring for those who have been indirectly affected by the virus. I am extremely grateful we will be using these funds to help bolster the community’s efforts to assist our people in this time of need.”
“Tennessee’s non-profits are vital business partners within our state that provide economic stimulus and critical resources for our local communities,” said House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville). “I am pleased to join with Gov. Lee, Lt. Gov. McNally, as well as our members to provide additional support to these organizations and agencies during the pandemic through the Tennessee Community CARES Program. Partnering with our non-profits will enable them to remain focused on their important roles for the benefit of our state and our people. This is a strong message that we are all working together now, and we will continue to do so, after the pandemic subsides.”
“Before the pandemic arrived, our state was already working closely with non-profit organizations to create valuable partnerships that provide families with full wrap around support,” said Tennessee Department of Human Services Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes. “This additional grant assistance will allow us to expand these partnerships to meet new challenges created by COVID-19 and continue our mission to build a thriving Tennessee.”
The Tennessee Community CARES Program will provide $150 million in direct federally funded aid to non-profit organizations located in Tennessee and serving Tennesseans. Examples of activities prioritized and encouraged for funding under this program will include:
- Support for school-aged children and families related to education needs created or exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak;
- Any of the following activities for individuals or families who have been impacted by a loss of income or economic insecurity as a result of COVID-19:
- Workforce training;
- Emergency food assistance;
- Case management or assistance in accessing an eligible state or federal public benefit;
- Care for at-risk or vulnerable populations to mitigate COVID-19 effects and/or enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions;
- Emergency financial assistance to prevent homelessness, eviction or foreclosure;
- Other similar services designed to mitigate the negative health or economic impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- Providing uncompensated care or assistance for disabled or other vulnerable population to address new financial, health, or educational challenges that are in response to COVID-19.
- Public Health Support activities such as uncompensated or unreimbursed costs for services or activities dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency, including but not limited to:
- Supports, education, and communication for individuals to increase access to testing and reliability of contact tracing;
- Expenses for technical assistance on mitigation of COVID-19-related threats;
- Expenses for acquisition and distribution of medical and protective supplies, including sanitizing products and personal protective equipment, for medical personnel, police officers, social workers, child protection services, and child welfare officers, direct service providers for older adults and individuals with disabilities in community settings, and other public health or safety workers in connection with the COVID-19 public health emergency;
- Mental and behavioral health services delivered in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency;
- Expenses associated with supporting the housing or quarantining of COVID-19 positive individuals;
- Any other expense incurred in relation to non-profit missions to directly support the public health response to COVID-19.
- Any other non-profit support provided to Tennessee business entities such as:
- Technical assistance and support in enrolling and participating in a federal, state, or local benefit program;
- Education on safe practices in response to COVID-19;
- Acquisition or purchase of personal protective equipment or reimbursing costs associated with mitigating the spread of COVID-19;
- Expenses related to mitigating the spread of COVID-19;
- Reimbursement of unreimbursed expenses incurred by a non-profit due to the COVID19 emergency, including but not limited to increased payroll costs, PPE, or any other measures taken to protect the employees and population served by the non-profit;
- Support targeted for any at-risk, vulnerable, or underserved community for any eligible activity;
- Past and future reimbursement for the required Non-Federal Cost-Share of Stafford Act assistance for COVID-19-related costs that satisfy the CRF eligibility criteria AND the FEMA Public Assistance eligibility criteria;
- Reimbursement for any of the eligible costs incurred in the period from March 1 to Dec. 30;
To administer these funds, the Department of Human Services is announcing an invitation for partner non-profits to serve as grant administrators. Grant administrators will be required to submit a proposal to the Department no later than 12 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 23 describing their ability to administer sub-grants to eligible non-profits. More details and submission instructions can be found here.
For non-profits wishing to receive response and recovery grants to provide direct services, instructions for grant proposals will be issued by the Department of Human Services and its partner non-profit grant administrators on August 1, 2020. Grant applications will be processed on a first-come, first-serve basis with monthly reporting requirements and a de-obligation date of November 15.
The Financial Stimulus Accountability Group is a bi-partisan group including Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, House Speaker Cameron Sexton, Sen. Raumesh Akbari, Sen. Bo Watson, Rep. Harold Love, Rep. Pat Marsh, Comptroller Justin Wilson and Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley.
Nashville, Tenn. – As Tennessee continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the state’s Economic Recovery Group announced today it will lift capacity restrictions on restaurants and retail to instead focus on social distancing best practices effective May 22 and issue guidelines to facilitate the safe reopening of larger, non-contact attractions on or after May 22. New Tennessee Pledge guidelines will be released this week. Six counties – Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, and Sullivan – may continue to follow individual, county-specific reopening plans created in consultation with State and local health departments.
“Tennesseans have worked incredibly hard to do their part and help slow the spread of COVID-19 so that our state can begin to reopen. Thanks to their continued efforts, we’re able to allow restaurants and retail businesses to operate at greater capacity and large attractions to open in a safe and thoughtful way,” said Governor Bill Lee. “Our state continues to see downward trends in case growth and meets the White House criteria for a phased reopening. This progress has been hard-won, and we can build upon it by reopening while also maintaining common-sense safety measures like mask-wearing and good hygiene. By taking the Tennessee Pledge, our businesses can reopen in a way that protects the health of their customers and employees, and protects the livelihoods of hard-working Tennesseans.”
The new Large Attractions guidance applies to those businesses that can effectively practice social distancing with strong measures to protect both employees and customers, including racetracks, amusement parks, waterparks, theaters and dinner theaters, auditoriums, large museums and more. Restrictions on social gatherings of more than 10 people remain in place for the time being. Updates to Restaurant Guidance will include a lift on capacity restrictions, allowing for increased service as long as social distancing guidelines are adhered to, including 6 feet between tables.
The updated guidelines come as Tennessee continues to meet the White House state gating criteria for phased reopening. The gating criteria include:
- Downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) reported within a 14-day period; AND
- Downward trajectory of COVID-like syndromic (CLI) cases reported within a 14-day period
- Downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period; OR
- Downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period (flat or increasing volume of tests)
- Treat all patients without crisis care; AND
- Robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing
Hospital capacity remains sufficient to meet the needs of patients, while the state continues to meet the goal of testing 2 percent of the population per month.
The Economic Recovery Group (ERG), composed of 30 leaders from the public and private sector, is crafting guidance to assist businesses in a safe reopening. The industry representatives participating in the ERG collectively represent over 140,000 Tennessee businesses that employ over 2.5M Tennesseans. More information about ERG is available here.
Graphs are available here.
In an effort to keep our readers, up to date with the latest number of cases confirmed in Tenn., Fetch Your News will continually be updating this article with the most recent updates from Tenn. Department of Health (TDH).
As of May 20, 2020, TDH reported 18,532 cases statewide, 309 deaths, and 11,783 recovered. The highest concentration is in Davidson with 4,174 cases and 46 deaths. TDH reported that 325,280 tests have been completed in the state.
Out of the positive cases around 9 percent have required hospitalization and 55 percent have recovered from home. Information about hospitalization status is gathered at the time of diagnosis, therefore this information may be incomplete. This number indicates the number of patients that were ever hospitalized during their illness, it does not indicate the number of patients currently hospitalized.
56 percent of cases have fully recovered from the virus. TDH defines “recovered” as people who (1) have been confirmed to be asymptomatic by their local or regional health department and have completed their required isolation period or (2)are at least 21 days beyond the first test confirming their illness.
Revised Testing Criteria and Increased Number of Test Sites
Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is increasing the number of specimen
collection sites statewide for COVID-19 testing, and is revising the current testing criteria to
accommodate more testing of Georgia residents.
Effective immediately, all symptomatic individuals will be eligible for COVID-19 testing. Health
care workers, first responders, law enforcement and long-term care facility residents and staff will
still be prioritized for testing regardless of whether they are or are not symptomatic.
Referrals are still required, however, there are now two ways to be referred to a DPH specimen
Local Health Department –
Individuals who meet COVID-19 testing criteria may now be referred to DPH specimen collection
sites by contacting their local health department. They will be screened by appropriate health
department staff and referred to the closest, most convenient specimen collection site.
Contact information for local health departments can be found on the DPH homepage, under COVID-19 in Georgia.
Health Care Provider Referral –
Health care providers and/or physicians can and should continue to refer patients for COVID-19
People should not arrive unannounced or without a scheduled appointment at a specimen
collection site, hospital, emergency room or other health care facility. Only individuals who have
been evaluated by public health or a health care provider and assigned a PUI # number will
be referred to these drive-thru sites.
Together we can stop further spread of COVID-19 in our state and save lives.
Stay home – the Governor has issued a shelter-in-place Executive Order that should be observed
by all residents and visitors.
Practice social distancing – keep at least 6 feet between yourself and other people.
Wash your hands – use soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based
hand sanitizer (60% alcohol) if soap and water aren’t readily available.
Wear a mask – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the use of face
masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19, especially where socials distancing is difficult to
maintain (grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.), and especially in areas of significant community-
For updates on the COVID-19 situation as it develops, follow @GaDPH, @GeorgiaEMA, and
@GovKemp on Twitter and @GaDPH, @GEMA.OHS, and @GovKemp on Facebook.