State targets vulnerable groups for COVID-19 testing

Video Shows What Drive-through Coronavirus Testing Is Like
Posted at 6:48 PM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 16:41:05-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Governor Bill Lee announced an effort to target some of the more vulnerable groups within the state for COVID-19 testing.

About 12,000 inmates have already been tested and the goal of the administration is to test every inmate in all state prisons by the end of the week and early next week.

Officials announced last week that more than 1,300 individuals at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the state, analysis of the test results confirmed that 98% of those who tested positive are asymptomatic. However, our analysis found that the CDC report does not completely back that theory up.

Governor Lee says the goal of this month is to test not just inmates but other populations like minorities living in densely populated communities and those living in nursing homes.

Meaning, they aim to test the 70,000 residents and 70,000 staff in long term care facilities within the state.

"If you have a symptom, get a test. when in doubt, get a test," said Gov. Lee. "The goal is to make sure that every Tennessean has access to free testing, and we remove as many barriers as possible while we move forward."

The National Guard will also be assisting in testing for those living in public housing. The plan there is to test those living in public housing in large cities which will take about a week and a half.

Major General Jeff Holmes says the goal is to test people in the six biggest cities while working alongside their health departments, which should take two days.

Testing will take place at Metro Nashville's 14 family properties next Thursday and Friday from noon to 6 p.m.

It is not mandatory.

Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey says public housing could potentially turn into "hot-spot" because of the crowding.

"We do know that crowded housing and housing where people are living in closer quarters, apartment style living is associated with higher rates of transmission," said Piercey," Not only do you have in housing projects do you have closer quarters, but you are also dealing with disparities where sometimes other issues; whether it’s language barrier or transportation difficulties that put people in mass transit more often in closer contact. There’s a lot of nuisances in urban populations that could increase the rate of spread, and that’s why we’re specifically targeting those areas. "

Commissioner Piercey warned the public of an increase in COVID-19 positive cases due to the increase in testing.