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May 28, 2020

Governor Bill Lee:

Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us today for our weekly briefing. Today, we'll be talking about continued conversation around our COVID-19 response. We will talk about reducing barriers to the important subject of testing. We'll be talking about mental health resources that are needed in the midst of this pandemic. We'll talk a little bit about our budget, about unemployment numbers, and about Tennessee's economy. We will have reports from the commissioner of mental health and substance abuse, commissioner from the Department of Labor, and commissioner from the Department of Health.

Governor Bill Lee:

Earlier today, we issued an overview of administrative actions that we've taken since January to address COVID-19 and also to address the economic challenges that we have as a state. I get to speak with governors across the state every week, and in talking with those governors, I find, and I see, and it's been reported, that we're in an enviable position here in Tennessee in many ways because of the response of Tennesseans throughout this. And this enviable position comes even in the midst of not only COVID-19, but weathering two natural disasters since March.

Governor Bill Lee:

I want to share some of the high points of our response to all of this since January, especially the work of the Unified Command Group. Just this last week, we reached a benchmark in testing. 400,000 tests have been administered, COVID-19 tests, in this state. That means that 6% of our population have stepped forward and asked for a test and have received one. That aggressive effort, by the way, has been made possible in large part as a result of men and women from the National Guard who have stepped up and been a very reliable partner in testing all across the state and continue to do so even today. Throughout this time, we've also had 20 volunteers who have faithfully and full-on, day and night, responded to COVID-19 calls to our hotline, 8,000 such calls. Tennesseans are concerned about their health and how it is that they can take personal control of their health, and we thank these volunteers.

Governor Bill Lee:

We've also had a great partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers. That partnership has allowed us to stand up 450 additional beds, besides the beds that we have available in our traditional healthcare system. We also have a thousand healthcare workers who are on call, stand ready to man those beds, should we need it, so we're grateful for that partnership and for the preparation that Tennessee has now for any surge that we see coming later this year, or even into the fall.

Governor Bill Lee:

Personal protective equipment is a very important part of the response that we've had. We have shipped 1.4 million pieces of personal protective equipment. TEMA has been a great partner in that effort, and those shipments have been made to first responders and to healthcare workers in all 95 of our counties, multiple shipments to counties across this pandemic, and it's allowed people to be in a position to be safe throughout the COVID-19 challenge. We will continue to take a thoughtful, data-backed approach to addressing COVID-19 and to addressing the economic challenges.

Governor Bill Lee:

But I just want to take a moment, again, to say thank you to Tennesseans. You have done what needed to be done. You have adopted practices, whether it's hand-washing or wearing masks or socially distancing or staying home when you're sick. You've done the things that it has taken for us to find ourselves in this position, and we are grateful for the way Tennesseans have responded.

Governor Bill Lee:

As we move into the summer and go on vacation and visit our families and begin to resume activities that we haven't done for some time, I want to remind Tennesseans that it's very important that we continue to have our population tested. Tennessee has been a leader in the country in testing efforts, and I believe it has much to do with why we are in a position and were in a position to open our economy as soon as possible. But that has to continue. And so we encourage Tennesseans, when in doubt, get a test.

Governor Bill Lee:

Free testing is available in every health department in the counties in which you live, and some of that testing, those testing numbers have reduced over the last week or two. We need testing to continue strongly. We need you to go out and get a test. If you're working, if you're moving around, if you have any reason whatsoever to think that you might need one, when in doubt, be sure and get a test.

Governor Bill Lee:

And I want to give a shout out to one of our partners, CVS, who has announced today that 18 locations across the state will be available with drive-through self-swab testing. And CVS has also committed that half of their sites across the country will be for underserved communities. CVS is just one of a number of private partners that we've highlighted across, throughout the weeks of this pandemic that have allowed Tennessee to be a leader in the country in testing, and we want to continue to do that. So thank you to CVS for that partnership.

Governor Bill Lee:

This public health crisis has had many adverse effects, particularly with regard to mental health on many Tennesseans. Stress and anxiety and depression associated with the challenges that come along in life through a period of time like this, it takes its toll on folks, especially on first responders and on healthcare workers, people who are on the front lines dealing specifically with COVID-19. And so Commissioner Williams, Marie Williams from our Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will be coming up in a minute to give a report about a hotline that we have created specifically for frontline workers that are facing mental health challenges as a result of their hard work in frontline work, anxiety and depression, and that hotline will be available to them. Commissioner Williams will discuss that in a minute.

Governor Bill Lee:

I want to talk a second about our budget and about the economy in our state. We have a tremendous financial challenge ahead of us as a state to address the current economic realities that COVID-19 has created for us. In the coming days, the legislature will convene, and I have already begun to work with those leaders and look forward to working with those leaders, as we say, committed to be certain that our budget is balanced, that our fiscal policy is strong.

Governor Bill Lee:

I met with leaders from the legislature just today to talk about that budget and our responsibility to being committed to keeping Tennessee in a strong place. We know how to do this. We know the decisions that have to be made, and I feel confident and certain that those decisions will be made in the coming weeks and in the coming months to keep Tennessee in the very strong fiscal position that it has enjoyed for many, many years. And while our economy has certainly taken a hit, I have a great deal of optimism and a great deal of confidence that Tennessee consumers can have confidence as they go back out into the communities and engage with our businesses, Tennessee businesses all across the state have adapted to and adopted the Tennessee pledge.

Governor Bill Lee:

And because of that commitment to providing a safe workplace for their employees and for their customers, Tennesseans can have a great deal of confidence as they engage in those businesses. As they eat and exercise and socialize and everything in between that keeps our economy running, we need to remind one another that that consumer confidence is incredibly important if we want to mitigate the economic challenges in the days ahead.

Governor Bill Lee:

And I certainly am optimistic about what lies ahead for Tennessee. I want Tennessee consumers to be confident as well. The Tennessee pledge will allow us to do that. But most importantly, Tennesseans and Tennessee businesses can once again engage and generate economic activity that will make all of our lives better in the days ahead.

Governor Bill Lee:

Before we move to our commissioner reports, into Q-&-A, I want to make one more announcement. I'm excited to announce the return of live sports in Tennessee. This weekend, Bristol Motor Speedway will host the 60th Annual Food City 500. It's going to be a little different than Food City 500s in the past, as racers compete around the track with a speedway that has no fans in it, but it is live racing nonetheless. One step closer. And I, for one, am excited about the prospect of live sports again in Tennessee, especially, and including NASCAR. We're looking forward to that this weekend. Commissioner Williams, if you would come up please and provide comments about the mental health initiatives that we are taking.

Commissioner Williams:

Governor Lee, we're so grateful to be able to announce today the launch of a new public-private partnership, which will allow Tennessee healthcare workers that are dealing with anxiety and stress to be able to call and speak to someone from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM every day of the week. Again, that 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM every day of the week. The number to call that we'll be announcing is (888) 642-7886.

Commissioner Williams:

In the spirit of The Volunteer State, this line is made possible due to the volunteer efforts and hard work of our deputy commissioner, Matt Yancey, his work with the State Mental Health Active Response Team, the National Association of Social Workers, Tennessee chapter, as well as the host for the line, which is the Tennessee Alcohol and Drug Association, named TAADAS.

Commissioner Williams:

As you know, Governor, across the state, as well as other states in the nation, there has been a marked increase in crisis calls as well as increase in prescribing rates for antianxiety and antidepressant medications. Our local community behavioral health centers across [inaudible] manning crisis lines for the last almost 15 years, and they're available 24/7. You can text 741741 to speak to them If you're in the need of a crisis intervention.

Commissioner Williams:

We also know that medication alone is not the answer, and that it's very important to be able to talk to someone about what is going on and be able to share your concerns and your care so that maybe someone could help intervene with that. This emotional support line will serve as a special lifeline for our state's healthcare workforce and first responders who had given so much. Again, the number is (888) 642-7886. Thank you.

Governor Bill Lee:

Thank you, commissioner. We, again, want to make sure that anyone who faces mental challenges, mental health challenges, that they believe that they need help, reach out please, to our department, to the hotlines that are available to you. We want to make sure that we provide those services to anyone in our state that has need.

Governor Bill Lee:

Commissioner McCord, if you would come up please and give an update on unemployment data that was released just today.

Commissioner McCord:

Thank you, Governor. I have some news on county unemployment data that was released earlier this afternoon. As a state we're at 14.7% unemployment for the state, which mirrors the national average, but in terms of county unemployment, all 95 of our counties saw unemployment go up in April. Only three counties had unemployment rates that were less than 10%. Our highest county was Sevier County at a rate of 29.5%.

Commissioner McCord:

All this data reminds us that as our economy opens back up, our agency and our state needs to have a renewed focus on workforce development and workforce ratings. Thank you, Governor

Governor Bill Lee:

Thank you. It's also a reminder that as our state does open up, this issue of consumer confidence is so important that we need our businesses to be supported, and we need Tennesseans to engage safely in ways that will allow that economic activity to begin and to get those unemployment numbers back down. There's a lot of challenges that Tennesseans face, and we want to do everything we can to mitigate those challenges. There are a number of steps that will be taken in the weeks and months ahead to do just that.

Governor Bill Lee:

Dr. Piercey, if you would please come up and give a health report.

Dr. Piercey:

Thank you, Governor. Good afternoon. Our case count today is 21,679. The good news is that 14,632 have recovered, leaving an active case count of just shy of 6,700. Our numbers continue to flatten and our positivity right now is down to 5.2%.

Dr. Piercey:

Want to give you a few comments on longterm care facilities. We've talked a lot about that. It's an incredibly vulnerable population, and as you've heard the governor say and me say, there is no higher priority than taking care of our most vulnerable here in Tennessee. I will admit it's a massive undertaking, and we've been working with the industry in order to get all 140,000 residents and staff across our 700 licensed facilities in the state tested in the month of May.

Dr. Piercey:

We're very close to having that done. We are going to allow a couple of weeks grace period to finalize that, but I have some updated numbers for you. 60% of all of the facilities are either completed with their testing or have them scheduled in the coming few days. 20% of the facilities have material needs only, and thankfully, we got a big shipment of PPE in a few days ago, and we're going to be able to fill those requests in the next few days, and so those will be able to be completed.

Dr. Piercey:

Then finally, the remaining 20% needs staffing, and as the governor mentioned, the National Guard has been an incredibly valuable partner in that effort. They will be going out the remainder of this week and next week to finalize those. Thank you again to all the facilities who have stepped up to do that.

Dr. Piercey:

Then once that mass testing is completed, the nursing home facilities will begin undertaking weekly retesting of their staff, because we know it's the staff members that are going in and out of the community and are the highest risk of bringing infection into the facility just because of their normal movement patterns. We want to make sure that we're doing a retesting of them on a regular basis in order to better protect those residents.

Dr. Piercey:

Something else that I find exciting that we've done in the nursing home space is through the use of our Nursing Home Civil Monetary Penalty Reinvestment Fund. It's a really long name, but it's a fund that we're able to use to reinvest into nursing homes, to improve the quality of care and the quality of life there.

Dr. Piercey:

I'm happy to announce that we have just allocated over $360,000 to about 40% of the nursing homes in the state through a communication technology project. This allows for virtual social interactions, as well as tele-health for these residents to be able to communicate with friends and family, as well as medical providers while there still are restrictions on visitation.

Dr. Piercey:

Speaking of testing and visitation, that's another reason that testing and ongoing monitoring is really important, because we want to be able to reopen our nursing homes for visitation, not only for the residents benefit, but also for family and friends who want to get back in there and interact in person with their loved ones. We feel this is a good step towards that.

Dr. Piercey:

Finally, an update on our correctional facilities. We have had four new cases in the Northwest Correctional Facility, which is up in Lake County. Unfortunately, one of those four cases has required hospitalization, and these cases where in inmates that were previously negative when we did the mass testing there in mid-May. As a reminder, there are about 2000 inmates there and initially 335 of them tested positive, but because we have identified some new cases there, and those cases seem to be unrelated to one another, we are undertaking another mass testing at that facility.

Dr. Piercey:

All of the formerly negative inmates will be retested today, and then all of the staff who were also formerly negative will be retested tomorrow. We're doing that in an effort to best protect that vulnerable population and mitigate the spread any further there. Thank you.

Governor Bill Lee:

Thank you, Dr. Piercey. We just want Tennesseans to know that we're committed and continue to be committed to the most vulnerable populations and stringent testing, whether it's in longterm care facilities or in our prisons or in our general population, and especially in our general population, to make sure that we continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19. That is the way that we can address it effectively so that we can continue to allow Tennesseans to engage, to move, to socialize, to continue their practices of social distancing and mask wearing. But to continue to live and go out and get our economy running again, so very encouraging and we appreciate that report.

Governor Bill Lee:

We'd be happy to open up the lines for questions.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, Governor. First we'll go to Kim Crucey with the AP. Kim., Your line is open.

Kim Crucey:

Thank you, [inaudible]. Hi, Governor. This week, your administration announced that it would soon stop the sharing of COVID patients names and addresses with first responders at the end of the month. I was curious what feedback you've gotten from law enforcement, who asked your administration to provide this data saying that was really needed. I'm curious if you've gotten any feedback, any opposition to this decision?

Governor Bill Lee:

Well, we've worked with law enforcement along the way and have done so throughout and we coordinated with them, let them know ahead of time that we would ... First of all, the decision was a temporary one to protect law enforcement. Back several weeks ago at the beginning of this pandemic, we certainly did not know exactly what we were facing. We did know that law enforcement and first responders did not have the personal protective equipment necessary to protect them as they engaged with the public. And we wanted to make sure that they had the protection they needed, especially going into an unknown environment of COVID in which we didn't know what the extent of it would be in the state.

Governor Bill Lee:

So, we made that decision and that allowed for protection for law enforcement. But we also knew all along that personal information is important to protect whenever possible, so we let law enforcement know that we would be working to get personal protective equipment. And when we would, then we would ship that to them so they would have the protection they need. And that is what we've done. We have opened up the supply lines, as you know, for increased personal protective equipment and we made those shipments. And we believe that law enforcement can operate safely now.

Kim Crucey:

Do you have a response to Nashville continuing to hand over this data to first responders and others? Today the Health Director of Nashville says it called your Administration's decision, he said he was puzzled by it. He saw these as valuable. Do you have a response to that?

Governor Bill Lee:

Well, I think it's something that we knew all along that would be temporary. We certainly knew that we would have a period of time in which we didn't have personal protective equipment, that we would allow first responders to have safety in this way, but that that would change. And when it became evident that it was possible to protect them, that we would do so. So, we carried out that plan. That's what we expected to do, and we were certain about that.

Kim Crucey:

Thank you.

Speaker 1:

Next, we'll go to Natalie Allison with the Tennessean. Natalie, your line is open.

Natalie Allison:

Hello Governor. I missed last week's briefing due to furlough. So, forgive me if this is not your most recent position. But, I believe you said that you do not want to allow the opportunity for any Tennessean to request an absentee ballot this year, even as some other Republican controlled states are easing restrictions there. Today, the legislative Black Caucus says they sent you a letter asking you to issue an Executive Order to allow for absentee voting for anyone who chooses it. They said, if it could quote, "save a life of at least one Tennessean that's necessary and beneficial." Have you changed your position on this at all, and would you issue that kind of Executive Order?

Governor Bill Lee:

I think the free and fair elections are most important in this State. It's very important. And there have been guidelines presented by the Secretary of State for how it is that we're going to carry out elections to keep people safe. That's most important to me. Regardless of the situation in November or in August, or whenever there's an election, we're going to implement policies that keep people safe. And there's a way to do that just like we're doing it in businesses, just like we're doing it all across the state. That's what's most important.

Governor Bill Lee:

I don't think we need to have, and I would not advocate for, no excuse absentee voting. It's not necessary in our state. What's necessary is that we provide the opportunity for absentee voting where it's needed, and we certainly have a lot of instances where absentee voting is acceptable, but we don't need to expand that.

Natalie Allison:

So, why would it not be necessary for somebody who maybe is immunocompromised, and they're not over the age you currently set, they're not leaving their house much right now. Why wouldn't that be necessary?

Governor Bill Lee:

Anyone can pursue the available options for, and there are options available for people to do absentee voting. But no excuse absentee voting, I don't believe that that's necessarily. I would not advocate for that in Tennessee.

Natalie Allison:

And I wanted to ask you something else. I wanted to ask you about George Floyd. There are protests that have been happening in Memphis. Do you think that law enforcement in Tennessee has been immune from this type of police brutality, even if it isn't always deadly? What do you think about that? And do you think it's an injustice that those officers aren't being charged?

Governor Bill Lee:

Well, I think that what happened to George Floyd is horrific. I think it is heartbreaking. I think that it is preventable and unacceptable. I do think that the officers that are involved in that should be brought to justice for the loss of that life. I spoke with African American leaders today. I spoke with law enforcement leaders today. And in our conversations, we all agreed that the situation there represents a very disturbing trend across the country, and that we have committed to recognizing and calling out police brutality where it exists.

Governor Bill Lee:

I have a great deal of respect for, and have long supported, law enforcement and continue to do so. And I know that the law enforcement community certainly know and hope that they understand my appreciation for those men and women who put their on the line every day. But police brutality is not law enforcement, and police brutality should not be accepted in this State, and it shouldn't be tolerated. I don't believe that we should or will tolerate it in the days ahead. It's unacceptable.

Natalie Allison:

Governor.

Governor Bill Lee:

Thank you.

Speaker 1:

Next, we'll go to Jason Lamb with News Channel five. Jason, your line is open.

Jason Lamb:

Hey, Governor. On the absentee voting lawsuits, more pointedly to the legal arguments here, I know you're taking the Attorney General's guidance on this. And he argued that expanding absentee voting would result in the functional disenfranchisement of thousands of voters across the State. But, other states have a greater frequency of vote by mail. The state of Oregon does vote by mail exclusively, and generally has a higher voter turnout than Tennessee. So, why do you think expanding vote by mail would disenfranchise voters and not actually expand the ability to vote?

Governor Bill Lee:

Well, I don't think you need to do something that's not necessary. And the Secretary of State has issued guidance, but I also fundamentally don't believe that we ought to have absentee voting with no excuse, because it opens up the opportunities for fraud. It opens up challenges that our state currently is not available to address. I just do not believe that it's the right practice and I wouldn't advocate for it.

Jason Lamb:

But Governor, these are arguments being made in your name. Do you feel that expanding the availability of absentee voting would actually disenfranchise voters and not expand the ability to vote?

Governor Bill Lee:

I think I've expressed my view on this. I do not think it would be good for Tennessee to have expanded absentee voting.

Jason Lamb:

Thank you, Governor.

Governor Bill Lee:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Speaker 1:

Next we'll go to Shannen Sharp with WTVC. Shannen, your line is open.

Shannen Sharpe:

In the last couple of days, the New York Times actually published saying that Chattanooga, we're at number four for a potential outbreak coming up next. What is your response to that? And is there some sort of mandate you would consider mask wearing since a lot of people aren't following the guidelines? What's your response to that article and also the masks?

Governor Bill Lee:

Yeah. So, my response is that we have a very strong plan in place in this State to address outbreaks and where they occur, and we've been in conversation with officials there. We'll be expanding testing there. We'll be looking at the outbreaks and understanding just why they're happening and where they're happening, and address those.

Governor Bill Lee:

COVID-19 virus exists in our society and there are going to be cases until there is a vaccine. And we'll address those cases as they come out. The most important statistic is for us to watch our ability to deal with those cases. Particularly our hospital capacity and our healthcare capacity, our personal protective equipment capacity, all of those things are in a very strong position in our State. So, we feel confident that we can address outbreaks wherever they happen.

Speaker 1:

Next we'll go to Marta Aldrich with Chalkbeat. Marta, your line is open. Marta, we're having some trouble hearing you. Okay. We'll continue to move on. Sam Stockard with the Daily Memphian. Sam, your line is open.

Speaker 1:

It seems we were having some audio difficulties, apologies everyone.

Governor Bill Lee:

Hang with us, Marta and Sam, maybe we'll pull it back up.

Automated Voice:

Welcome to WebEx.

Speaker 1:

Okay. Everyone apologies for that. We are back on with the audio. So, we'll go first to Marta Aldrich and then we'll go to Sam Stockard.

Speaker 1:

Marta, your line is open.

Marta Aldrich:

Thank you. My question is related to the state budget and [inaudible]. This week we've heard revenue shortfall projections, that range from 500 million to 1.7 billion. Your administration has directed state agencies to identify reductions totaling 12%. Given that backdrop, what are your commitments to K-12 education at this time? Specifically related to BEP funding, the 2% teacher pay increase that's currently in the budget, your literacy initiative that's not part of the budget, but is still being discussed in the house. And, funding a school choice program through education savings accounts.

Governor Bill Lee:

So, Marta, the numbers that you pointed out from 5 billion to one and a half billion or more, really emphasize the challenge that we have as a team, as an administration and that the legislature has going forward. Very difficult to know what the future is. I will say that we are committed to and are proposing to continue the BEP funding. We need to make certain that we provide funding for our public school systems all across this state as education is, if it's arguably the most fundamentally important piece of our budget. Every other initiative will be decided by the legislature and those will be issues that will be determined based on the budget.

Governor Bill Lee:

What their decisions are about what should be funded, what should not be funded. I think it's been clear to me what is important to me, but what's most important to me right now is settling in on a budget that's fiscally responsible for the next year through the greatest economic crisis that and that will be making very difficult decisions, but the legislature determines the agenda, which bills will bring forward and we'll wait to see what they, what they propose.

Marta Aldrich:

Thank you.

Speaker 1:

Next, we'll go to Sam Stocker with the Daily Memphian.

Speaker 1:

Sam, your line is open.

Sam Stockard:

Governor, how are you doing good?

Governor Bill Lee:

Good, Sam.

Sam Stockard:

There's been some discussion among legislators about reviewing the loss surrounding a state of emergency and executive orders to give legislators a little more authority and some more checks and balances in this process. There's been unrest about the information sharing and shutting down businesses that you deemed not essential.

Sam Stockard:

Do you agree that this is necessary to provide the legislature some more checks and balances?

Governor Bill Lee:

Well, there are a lot of bills being discussed and as those move and get closer to my desk I can comment on them, but there are a lot of things being discussed in the legislature right now that haven't even convened yet. So, we'll see what comes across the desk.

Sam Stockard:

But, do you feel like the legislature has been shut out of this entire process?

Governor Bill Lee:

I think the legislature understands this process and we've been in contact with them all along and they will recognize that as they go into the session.

Speaker 1:

Next, we'll go to Samantha Max with WPLN.

Speaker 1:

Samantha, your line is open.

Samantha Max:

Hi, thanks so much for taking our questions, Governor, I have two questions for you. The first is that given the finance [inaudible] have asked the departments and agencies to implement for [inaudible] set for reduction. Could that mean also reductions of employees or pay cuts? And, then my second question is regarding the prisons. Are you planning to do mass testing of inmates who tested negative at other prisons as well that have had the first outbreaks like Bledsoe to see if potentially other inmates have since gotten sick?

Governor Bill Lee:

I'll let Dr. Piercey talk about the testing strategy for prisons. Our agencies have been asked to make... to propose 12% cuts in their and their budgets. It's all a part of a responsible response to a tremendous economic challenge that we have. So, every department, all across state government will be asked to look at their department to see how efficiently they can run. What are the things that they can do without? What are the ways that they can save money? We have an obligation to Tennesseans and to the tax payers. We have an obligation to balance our budget, not only an obligation, but a requirement to do so. And, that will take a lot of steps.

Governor Bill Lee:

That will take a lot of decisions that will take a lot of difficult decisions, but ones that are certainly possible and that we're capable of doing so. Every department commissioner will engage in this. We'll do that together as a team and together we'll create a budget that will allow us to continue to serve Tennesseans in the way that they need to be con to be served. But, at the same time, provide Tennesseans with the assurance that we know how to manage a budget and an economic crisis. Part of the way you do that is you come together. All of the team comes together and presents opportunities for reductions.

Governor Bill Lee:

Dr. Piercey.

Dr. Piercey:

Thank you for your question regarding prison retesting. So, you're exactly right we do have a very low threshold for retesting the mass population, not only prisons, but also nursing homes. So, those are somewhat similar situations where you have a vulnerable population living together in a congregate setting and the ramifications of them getting the disease could be very severe, particularly on the nursing home side of things.

Dr. Piercey:

So, in the prisons specifically, we have a very low threshold of mass retesting. There's not a certain number, but what it is, is when we identify unrelated cases. So, if there's one case and a cluster that may not precipitate it, if we can isolate that to one unit or to one particular area, but if we find what we consider community transmission, so unrelated cases in the facility, and that goes for prisons and nursing homes, that will prompt a mass retesting.

Dr. Piercey:

And, so we are doing that at Northwest. It would not surprise me if we had to do that at another one of the prison facilities, because the risk factors really haven't changed much. Staff are still coming and going into the community, and they're still in a congregate care setting where they could be at high risk for a very quick transmission.

Dr. Piercey:

One other thing that we're doing on prison retesting is that we are retesting or testing all inmates two weeks prior to release if they are scheduled to be released, because we want to know their status so we don't inadvertently introduce that into the community and taking steps to make sure we protect our communities when those inmates are being released.

Speaker 1:

That's all the time we have for questions today. Governor, if you'd like to make your closing statement.

Governor Bill Lee:

Thank you everyone for your questions and thanks for tuning in and thank you for doing your part, Tennesseans, to put us into a place that gives me great optimism and encouragement about the days ahead. We have good days ahead for us in Tennessee. We have challenges, certainly we're in the midst of a tremendous challenge, but it's a challenge that Tennesseans have shown that they can face and that they can navigate their way through. And, we will continue to do that with great hope and great optimism.

Governor Bill Lee:

Thank you very much.

Governor Bill Lee:

Do your part, stay apart.