COVID-19: Tennessee to test 70K in nursing homes across the state

Posted at 6:52 AM, Apr 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-30 07:52:41-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nursing homes are among the hardest hit in the COVID-19 pandemic, seeing high case numbers and unfortunately deaths. Now, the State of Tennessee will conduct mass testing to protect the people who live and work there.

More than 70,000 people in Tennessee's 700 facilities will be tested for COVID-19 soon.

Keep in mind the elderly are considered to be the most vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus. Of the 195 deaths in the state, 166 of them were over the age of 61.

The Gallatin Center for Rehabilitation and Healing has reported the most deaths. Twenty-one people died following an outbreak there in March.

The CDC believes the disease spreads easily in nursing homes by people who are asymptomatic. That’s why the state is going to great lengths to identify positive patients more quickly.

“The state will be supporting this expansion in testing by providing any and all necessary supplies to facilities who may need it,” Dr. Lisa Piercey said. “Including swabs, PPE and even staff to come in and do the testing if they desire.”

Right now, there are 26 nursing homes across the state with two or more COVID-19 cases.


See all our coronavirus coverage here


What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.