NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — More than 1,300 individuals at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center have tested positive for COVID-19. In response, Gov. Bill Lee’s Unified Command Group has announced that a mass testing initiative will begin next week for all staff and inmates.
The Tennessee Department of Correction confirmed the positive cases on Friday. Out of the 2,450 total tests, more than 1,300 staff and inmates tested positive.
According to the state, analysis of the test results confirmed that 98% of those who tested positive are asymptomatic.
CoreCivic gave a break down of the testing results as follows:
- Total tested: 2,444
- Total negative results: 1,145
- Total positive results: 1,299
- Pending tests: 13
- Total tested: 281
- Total negative results: 192
- Total positive results: 50
- Pending tests: 39
The testing took place on Tuesday and Wednesday. Prior to this week, CoreCivic said there were 12 staff members who had confirmed cases of COVID-19.
"We have worked closely together with TDOC and state health officials to respond to this unprecedented situation appropriately, thoroughly and with care for the well-being of those entrusted to us and our communities," CoreCivic's Chief Medical Officer Keith Ivens, M.D. said in the statement. In addition, CoreCivic says the rate of infection at Trousdale Turner is consistent with or below what is being reported by other correctional systems nationally.
The governor’s office says TDOC is now working with its health care services provider and contract prison provider, Centurion Managed Care and CoreCivic, to begin COVID-19 testing next week of all staff and inmates at 10 other TDOC facilities in the state.
Testing was also conducted at other locations, including the Bledsoe facility, where there were 583 positive cases. Additionally, there were 40 positive cases at Northwest and 40 positive cases at Turney Center. The majority of those positive tests were also asymptomatic.
The state says TDOC has given more than 93,000 masks to its staff, inmates, county jails, and health care workers.
All inmates who test positive and are asymptomatic receive daily medical monitoring and health assessments. Inmates who are asymptomatic will be monitored at their facilities while medical teams check daily for symptoms.
CoreCivc has launched a 24-hour COVID-19 information hotline for family members of inmates. It will be open every day at 615-263-3200 and will be monitored by a live operator.
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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:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Or at least two of the following symptoms:
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- 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.