Bill Lee

The Tennessee Department of Health has reported a total of 16,970 cases of COVID-19 across the state, up 271 cases from the number on Thursday afternoon. Of those people, 1,454 individuals have been hospitalized and 290 people have died, up 19 and three in 24 hours, respectively.

Nearly 7,400 test results were processed and reported since Thursday, bringing the statewide total to 309,756 people tested.

State health officials have recently begun mass testing within populations deemed more susceptible to becoming infected and experiencing bad health outcomes by COVID-19, including nursing homes, public housing and the state’s correctional facilities. Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said the testing will fluctuate daily case reporting because officials expect to find a higher yield of positive cases among these populations.

Lee extends state of emergency

Gov. Bill Lee has extended Tennessee’s state of emergency declaration, which was set to expire Monday, to June 30. 

Under the order, broad deregulations of the health care industry will remain, including measures that could help proliferate the health care workforce, remove barriers to resource procurement and postpone bureaucratic facility reviews.

It also extends, among many other protocols, price-gouging protections into early June and extends unemployment flexibilities for people who are out of work because of the pandemic.

Lee made the original declaration on March 12, after the state had confirmed 18 cases of COVID-19 in the state and only 1,321 cases in the United States. At the time, the state’s testing capacity was 500 kits. In the past week, Tennessee has processed nearly 9,000 tests per day. 

Reassigned state workers to remain on contact tracing team through reopening

The governor has also extended orders allowing for flexibility with state department and agency staffing, allowing officials to divert much of the state’s resources toward combatting the pandemic. 

It will also allow the state to maintain the depth of its current contact tracing initiative, which now employs 500 state employees, health care workers and medical students, to continue investigating confirmed cases and tracking the virus’s spread. As the state begins reopening, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said state workers from other departments will remain on the team for the time being. 

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