Army of COVID-19 contact tracers readied

Posted 6/21/20

The Tennessee Department of Health recently announced it currently has 640 staff members performing COVID-19 contact tracing activities statewide in coordination with county health departments, as …

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Army of COVID-19 contact tracers readied

The Tennessee Department of Health recently announced it currently has 640 staff members performing COVID-19 contact tracing activities statewide in coordination with county health departments, as well as the TDH’s central and regional offices.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said that “contact tracers are critical to Tennessee’s COVID-19 response efforts in gathering information from positive cases on symptoms, health condition and activities prior to and during diagnosis, notifying close contacts of potential exposure to positive COVID-19 cases, and communicating with positive cases and their contacts to monitor symptoms and provide support throughout the 14-day quarantine period.”
TDH is also recruiting and training an additional 650 contact tracers for its central, local and regional health offices.
Lee’s Unified Command Group is reminding all Tennesseans to continue to do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 
“This includes wearing a mask when in public, observing proper distances between people in social settings, washing hands frequently, and minimizing trips and contact with other people, in general,” the UCG said.
Hospital capacity
planning continues
across the state
Lee’s UCG is continuing to monitor increases in COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations in certain regions of Tennessee.
The increased monitoring is necessary as more businesses have reopened and as more individuals are leaving their homes.
According to Lee’s UCG, COVID-19 hospitalizations have climbed gradually since reopening to represent approximately 4% of all hospitalized patients in Tennessee, occupying 400 hospital beds in the state.
Dr. Lisa Piercey, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health, said she “expected the gradual increase in COVID-19 cases that we’ve seen over the last few weeks.”
“We are monitoring COVID-19’s data trends and communicating with our hospital partners daily,” she said. “Hospital capacity remains stable in Tennessee and COVID-19 patients account for less than four percent of all hospitalizations statewide.”
TN Strong Mask
Movement expected
to gain some steam
Lee’s Economic Recovery Group has developed the "TN Strong Mask Movement," partnering with more than 30 flagship brands to distribute nearly 300,000 free or low-cost cloth face coverings across the state.
The masks have a  projected value of more than $3 million, according to the ERG.
Mark Ezell, director of the ERG, said residents can now “stay safe while wearing brands synonymous with Tennessee from the worlds of sports, education and business.”
“Tennesseans have stepped up to do their part and keep their neighbors safe throughout this health crisis,” he said. “The more we can encourage masks and make them fun, the better we can mitigate the spread of the COVID-19. These businesses are the heart and soul of Tennessee, and we’re grateful to them for helping our citizens stay healthy and have a little fun sporting their favorite brands while they’re at it.”
Ezell said the CDC recently released new guidance for public events and gatherings, “strongly encouraging wearing masks to lower the risk of exposure and reduce the spread of COVID-19."
"As Tennessee safely continues to reopen the economy and residents and travelers alike move about the state, masks have become an important health accessory," he said.
Nashville Predators President and CEO Sean Henry said his organization appreciated Lee and Ezell including the Nashville Predators in promoting the use of masks so :SMASHVILLE can continue to open in the safest possible manner.”
“By creating SMASHVILLE Strong and Predator-themed masks, we can all show our passion for the Preds while reinforcing the use of face coverings as we work to re-launch the economy and local businesses,” Henry said.
According to Ezell, each business “will distribute branded cloth face coverings at little-to-no-cost across their own channels or with the help of the state of Tennessee, which could include employees, fans or nonprofit partnerships.” 
Companies can visit for additional information. The general public can also visit the link above to order a TN Strong branded mask.
Participating brands include:
• Amazon
• Austin Peay State University
• Belmont University (courtesy Dickens family)
• BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation
• Bridgestone
• Bristol Motor Speedway
• Chevrolet
• East Tennessee State University
• FedEx Express
• Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville of Sevier County
• Gibson Brands
• Graceland
• Jack Daniel’s
• Lipscomb University (courtesy Ezell Foundation)
• Memphis Grizzlies
• Middle Tennessee State University
• Nashville Predators
• Nashville SC (courtesy Ingram Charities, distributed in partnership with United Way of Greater Nashville)
• Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc.
• SomethingInked
• Tennessee Bankers Association
• Tennessee Farm Bureau Health Plans
• Tennessee Tech University
• Tennessee Titans
• Tractor Supply Company
• TriStar Health
• Union University
• University of Memphis
• University of Tennessee, Knoxville (courtesy The Boyd Foundation)
• Unum Group
• Vanderbilt University
• Volkswagen Chattanooga
As of Saturday, the COVID-19 case count for Tennessee was 34,446, including 524 deaths, 2,266 hospitalizations and 22,838 recoveries.
For Bradley County, as of Saturday, 328 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19, including 244 recoveries and two deaths.
Two additional deaths as previously reported by the Cleveland Daily Banner have not yet been confirmed by the TDH.
Confirmed case totals for Bradley County neighbors include: 
 • Grundy: 46 cases, 30 recoveries and 1 death;
 • Hamilton: 2,050 cases, 1,033 recoveries and 25 deaths;
 • Marion: 49 cases, 39 recoveries and 3 deaths;
 • McMinn: 172 cases, 136 recoveries and 15 deaths;
 • Meigs: 30 cases, 25 recoveries and 0 deaths;
 • Monroe: 107 cases, 80 recoveries and 4 deaths;
 • Polk: 32 cases, 26 recoveries and 0 deaths;
 • Rhea: 253 cases, 226 recoveries and 0 deaths; and
 • Sequatchie: 22 cases, 19 recoveries and 0 deaths.
 Counties with Tennessee's highest numbers of cases include:
 • Bedford: 428 cases, 289 recoveries and 4 deaths;
 • Bledsoe: 613 cases, 610 recoveries and 1 death;
 • Davidson: 7,571 cases, 5,078 recoveries and 95 deaths; 
 • Knox: 638 cases, 440 recoveries and 5 deaths;
 • Lake: 689 cases, 681 recoveries and 0 deaths; 
 • Montgomery: 368 cases, 155 recoveries and 5 deaths;
 • Putnam: 655 cases, 501 recoveries and 7 deaths;
 • Robertson: 701 cases, 421 recoveries and 9 deaths;
 • Rutherford: 2,019 cases, 864 recoveries and 32 deaths;
 • Shelby: 7,737 cases, 5,259 recoveries and 163 deaths;
 • Sumner: 1,165 cases, 491 recoveries and 49 deaths;
 • Trousdale: 1,466 cases, 1,364 recoveries and 5 deaths;
 • Williamson: 775 cases, 436 recoveries and 12 deaths; and
 • Wilson: 595 cases, 341 recoveries and 15 deaths.
According to Johns Hopkins University, as of Saturday, more than 2.2 million individuals in the United States have tested positive for COVID-19, with 119,460 deaths and 606,715 recoveries.
Globally, 8.7 million individuals have tested positive, resulting in 461,675 deaths and more than 4.2 million recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins.


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