Governor Lee: 'We have sufficient tests.'

Posted at 3:46 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 23:29:07-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Governor Bill Lee announced during a press conference Monday that the state has sufficient COVID-19 tests, but encouraged the public to be tested only if they have legitimate reasons to do so.

"We currently have the capacity to test thousands a day in Tennessee now so we have sufficient tests for the people who are presenting themselves to be tested," said Lee.

However, Dr. Lisa Piercey, TN Department of Health Commissioner, explained tests will be prioritized for health care workers and the elderly (65 years old and older).

"if you have the sniffles and you go for testing you may not meet the screening criteria. That doesn't mean we have a shortage of [tests]. It means we are using them judiciously so we can test the people who need it," explained Piercey.

Governor Lee asked Tennesseans to adhere to the recent guidelines regarding COVID-19, which were Monday by President Trump and the COVID-19 task force. He asked the public to refrain from gathering in groups of more than ten people and continue to practice social distancing as much as possible.

He said the state as a sufficient amount of tests. However, he asked people to be tested only if they are feeling the symptoms of the virus or have been in direct contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

"Anyone who needs the test can get the test, can get the test, but who needs the test?" said Governor Lee. "Symptoms are fever cough and shortness of breath or if you are feeling ill and have been in contact with someone directly exposed to someone with COVID-19. You are the ones who qualify for the test."

He added if you are experiencing symptoms to reach out to your doctor and they will tell you what to do next, and if you need the test.

A total of 15 remote assessment sites will be up and running in Metro areas across the state by the end of the week. Anyone who does not have insurance can get tested at any public health facility.


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.