Gov. Bill Lee's office announced on Friday morning that all Tennessee assisted living, long-term care, senior residential and skilled nursing facilities will be required to test all residents for COVID-19 by June 30.
The mandate takes the recommendation to test assisted living home residents as detailed in Executive Order 38 one step further, with facilities that fail to comply facing possible license revocation, suspension and civil monetary penalties.
"Long-term care residents are one of the most vulnerable populations to COVID-19," reads a release from Lee's office.
"To-date, nearly 40% of all COVID-19-related deaths in Tennessee have been long-term care residents. This reality is why Governor Lee and the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) have implemented a robust response to monitoring and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the state’s long-term care facilities."
The new mandate, which was unanimously approved by the Healthcare Facilities Board on Wednesday, also require all assisted living homes to complete an "intent to test" survey by June 1, with all residents and staff required to be tested by June 30.
Even with the mandate, residents and staff maintain the right to refuse testing. Refusals are required, however, to be documented with a signature from the refusing individual.
In Williamson County, a total of 18 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed by the TDH to have come from assisted living homes; 14 at NHC Healthcare Franklin, two at Fountains of Franklin, and two at NHC Place at Cool Springs.
As of Friday, approximately 60% of assisted living homes in Tennessee have either completed or scheduled testing of all residents and staff. Approximately 20% of facilities still have PPE (personal protective equipment) needs, which will be delivered "within the next seven days," according to the release.
The remaining 20%, according to the release, require staffing assistance to complete testing. Assistance will be provided to these facilities by the National Guard within "the next two weeks."
There are approximately 70,000 assisted living home staff and 70,000 residents of such facilities in Tennessee. As of Friday, there were a confirmed 21,679 cases of COVID-19, up 373 from Thursday. Of those cases, 14,632 have recovered, and 356 have died. A total of 415,989 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in Tennessee since the pandemic began.