Tennessee’s Long-Term Care Facilities Make Substantial Progress in COVID-19 Testing

Governor’s Unified Command Continues to Make Progress on Hospital Capacity and Contact Tracing
Thursday, June 18, 2020 | 04:23pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Governor Bill Lee’s Unified Command Group announced today that nearly all of Tennessee’s 700 long-term care facilities have completed the required COVID-19 testing of residents and staff, as part of the state’s efforts to protect the health of vulnerable populations.

“We know long-term care residents are the most vulnerable population to COVID-19, and protecting their health and safety is one of our top priorities in fighting this virus,” said Gov. Lee. “That starts with testing all residents and staff to mitigate the spread of the disease within facilities. I’m grateful to our Unified Command for working with facilities across the state to make testing readily available and effective.”

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, 690 long-term care facilities responded to a TDH survey in late May and reported their intent to test staff and residents. Of the 690 facilities responding to the survey, 667, or 96.7 percent, have thus far completed the required COVID-19 testing for residents and staff.

On May 26, 2020, new TDH rules required each long-term care facility in Tennessee to respond to an intent to test survey before June 1, 2020, and to complete the testing of all residents and staff by June 30, 2020.

Hospital Capacity Planning

UCG continues to monitor closely the increases in COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations in certain regions of Tennessee, as businesses have reopened and more individuals have been leaving their homes more regularly.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have climbed gradually since reopening to represent approximately four percent of all hospitalized patients in Tennessee, occupying 400 hospital beds in the state.

“We expected the gradual increase in COVID-19 cases that we’ve seen over the last few weeks,” said Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “We are monitoring COVID-19’s data trends and communicating with our hospital partners daily. Hospital capacity remains stable in Tennessee and COVID-19 patients account for less than four percent of all hospitalizations statewide.”


Contact Tracing

TDH currently has 640 staff members performing COVID-19 contact tracing activities statewide in coordination with county health departments and TDH’s central and regional offices.

Contact tracers are critical to Tennessee’s COVID-19 response efforts in gathering information from positive cases on symptoms, health condition, and activities prior to and during diagnosis, notifying close contacts of potential exposure to positive COVID-19 cases, and communicating with positive cases and their contacts to monitor symptoms and provide support throughout the 14-day quarantine period.

TDH is recruiting and training an additional 650 contract tracers for its central, local, and regional health offices to augment and support this effort further.

UCG is also reminding all Tennesseans to continue to do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This includes wearing a mask when in public, observing proper distances between people in social settings, washing hands frequently, and minimizing trips and contact with other people, in general.