Gov. Lee’s latest update on the coronavirus

Gov. Bill Lee arrives for a press conference on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The latest from Gov. Bill Lee’s office:


COVID-19 Testing Sites

Remote assessment sites for COVID-19 are quickly becoming available through the help of private providers. Remote assessment sites, casually referred to as “drive through testing” allow Tennesseans to safely pursue COVID-19 testing without creating unnecessary risks in traditional clinical settings. The updated list of remote assessment sites is available here.

School Closures

On Monday, March 16, Gov. Lee urged school districts across Tennessee to close by Friday, March 20, and all districts have agreed to do so.

Below is Gov. Lee’s full statement:

“As the response to COVID-19 evolves, I urge every school district in Tennessee to close as soon as practically possible, with all schools expected to close by Friday, March 20, 2020 at the latest. Schools should remain closed through March 31, 2020 to further mitigate the spread of this infectious disease and we will issue further guidance prior to March 31. Superintendents and local leadership have the full support of my administration to determine effective dates for closure this week as they evaluate what is best for families within their respective districts. We understand the tremendous burden school closure places on families, and we will continue to work with both the federal government and school districts to ensure we continue essential supports like meals for students in need. Every Tennessean has a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and I urge Tennesseans to be quick to help neighbors as new needs surface with the closure of schools.”

Essential Supports for Students Continue Through Closure

The Department of Education applied for and received two nutrition waivers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide School Food Authorities (SFAs) flexibility to continue to provide meals to at-risk students who rely on meals. This will permit eligible districts to serve meals in a flexible delivery model. Additional information can be found here.

Department Actions for Targeted Relief

Child Care Facilities

  • We are encouraging child care facilities to remain open to continue to meet growing needs in their communities. Each facility will decide whether to remain open based on the needs in their own community. 
  • Gov. Lee has directed the Department of Human Services to relax the regulatory burden on child care centers.
  • To support these efforts, the administration is providing $10 million in COVID-19 emergency response and recovery grants to support existing child care facilities that are facing greater needs.
  • Child care facilities that currently receive subsidies will continue to receive them regardless of a potential loss in the wake of COVID-19 through the end of March.
  • As Tennesseans step up and consider providing child care for friends and neighbors, please contact the Department of Human Services here for guidance on how to safely accomplish this especially in the wake of COVID-19.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

  • The Tennessee Department of Human Services has issued a new policy offering emergency cash assistance for those impacted at this time by utilizing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds.
  • These funds will be up to $1,000 for a family of 5+ who qualifies and has had a loss of a job as a result of COVID-19.
  • These efforts will be up and working within one week, and we encourage Tennesseans in need to apply online when the application becomes available here.

Expanded Unemployment Relief

  • The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is actively working with economists to determine how economic downturn could affect our state’s economy and how to best use the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.
  • The department will extend unemployment benefits to employees who suddenly find themselves out of work as businesses temporarily cease operations during the pandemic.
  • The department is also extending unemployment benefits to those who are quarantined by a physician for COVID-19 and are temporarily away from their job.
  • The department is also working with the federal government to gain more flexibility in job search requirements.
  • The department is suspending certain regulations so those who are approved will get paid more quickly.
  • Tennesseans are encouraged to apply online here.

Relief for Local Governments

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a strain on local governments.
  • Gov. Lee’s amended budget includes $200 million to provide specific support and relief to our county and city governments in the wake of this pandemic.

7 Responses to Gov. Lee’s latest update on the coronavirus

  • Pingback: Wednesday, March 18

  • Avatar
    Carlene Malone says:

    The “drive through” testing sites listed appear to be limited to what Vanderbilt Medical has established.
    What is the State doing?

    Are other medical centers/facilities doing anything? Come on University Medical Center Knoxville. There are no “drive through” testing sites in Knoxville.

    Only about 2 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Knox County. Is the low number more a function of the low rate of testing than the actual prevalence of disease?

  • Avatar
    Diana Page says:

    I’m wondering if any actions regarding release of inmates is being considered at TDOC, and also wondering what the status of COVID-19 in TDOC is right now. I realize that in-person visits have been curtailed. Have inmate phone calls been reduced in price? Are early releases in the works?

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Yet another great idea from the fever swamps of the left. By all means. at this time of heightened societal tensions lets release a bunch of criminals onto the street which will serve to increase the job of the police when heavens knows how many law enforcement officers will come down with the Chinese flu. It’s the Diana Page’s of the world that are responsible for the long lines at gun stores populated by many who never dreamed of owning a gun before.

  • Avatar
    Diana Page says:

    Oh Yeah, and also there is Medicaid Expansion. There is a bill which could be approved. Bringing in beaucoup federal dollars.

    Also, there was the approximate unspent $250M in federal childcare dollars?

  • Avatar
    James White says:

    Stay Calm. Wash your hands. Live your life.

  • Avatar
    Diana Page says:

    good advice above, of course.

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