State to give benefits to those quarantined, unemployed during COVID-19 outbreak

Posted at 3:45 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 20:50:27-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Governor Bill Lee announced multiple ways the state will be helping those impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

After urging schools to close on Monday, the governor said 100% of school districts will be closed by Friday. The closures are putting a burden on parents and child care facilities. During his Tuesday briefing, Lee announced the use of $10 million in grants to be used to help child care facilities through out the state manage that burden.

"Targeted efforts that we’re making to provide help to those who may lose their jobs in this economic downturn that we’re seeing as a result of COVID-19. We’re certainly know it’s happening, we hear about it everyday and we want to be a part of that solution," said Lee.

Help will also be coming to anyone who may lose their job as a result of the outbreak through TANF (Tennessee Assistance for Needy Families) funding. The state will lessen TANF restrictions allowing a family of five, that has experienced a job loss assistance of up to $1,000.

The Tennessee Department of Labor is also working to help with the use of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. It will allow those who have been quarantined or have lost their jobs to receive unemployment benefits.

Gov. Lee urged people to access these resources online, saying it is the quickest way to get help. To apply for unemployment head to

The governor and lawmakers are also amending the state's budget to plan to include $200 million in grants for local counties and cities "which will include the opportunity for counties and cities in every county and every city across the state to use those...dollars not only for infrastructure needs and previously determined requirements for their county and cities, but also for the needs associated with COVID-19." The General Assembly is expected to pass that budget and adjourn by Saturday.

"We initially suggested in our budget a $100 million to counties, we added a 100 million more because we know that local governments know better what we do what’s needed in their local communities, and this will provide relief for citizens, and cities, and counties all over the state," said Lee.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services is accepting applications for assistance for TANF and Snap Assistance


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.