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Gov. Lee asks Tennessee public schools to remain closed until April 24

Posted: 3:25 PM, Mar 24, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-24 23:33:17-04
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee Governor Bill Lee is recommending all public schools remain closed until April 24 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Lee made the recommendation during his daily update on Tuesday. He originally asked that schools remain closed through March 31. All Tennessee public schools were closed by March 20.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said the state is working with PBS to produce educational content for students as they remain out of the classroom. The content will begin to roll out on April 6.

The governor also said state workers are to remain working from home until April 24.

Real IDs are being put on hold. Lee said the IDs will not be issued again until May 18. The deadline for the ID change was originally set for October 1, 2020, but President Donald Trump said Monday the deadline will be pushed back indefinitely. The change would require Americans flying domestically to have a Real-ID compliant form of identification.

State emissions tests fees will be waived until May 18.

Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey urged residents to continue social distancing during this time. Piercey said as demand for testing grows, the turnaround time grows, leaving the false impression that the curve is flattening in the state.

Piercey also specifically urged those aged 20-40 years old, mainly the millennial generation, to take the COVID-19 outbreak and precautions like social distancing. She said Tennessee has a higher percentage of positive coronavirus cases in that age group compared to other states.

"iI understand it's easy to think, 'I'm young, I'm healthy, this may not affect me as badly'," Piercey said. "But as you've heard the governor say on several occasions, you're still at risk, and you're still putting others at risk."

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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:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.

Prevention

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 cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.