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Tennessee officials to focus COVID-19 testing on urban housing, prisons, nursing homes


{p}Governor Bill Lee says for the month of May, the state will target COVID-19 testing on certain populations. PHOTO: FOX 17 Nashville{/p}

Governor Bill Lee says for the month of May, the state will target COVID-19 testing on certain populations. PHOTO: FOX 17 Nashville

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NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Governor Bill Lee says for the month of May, the state will target COVID-19 testing on certain populations.

Gov. Lee says testing will target populations such as nursing homes, prisons, minority populations, low-income urban communities, and high-density residential settings.

The decision to focus on these populations will allow the state to target interventions where needed to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey says 12,000 inmates have been tested while three more facilities need to complete testing before all state prisons are completed.

Nursing homes and assisted-living facility testing has also started with the goal of testing the 70,000 staff and 70,000 residents. The Tennessee National Guard will be targeting public housing in the state's major cities, targeting the "big six areas" such as Nashville and Memphis.

Dr. Piercey added she believes public housing areas could be 'hot-spots' for COVID-19 due to the nature of close living conditions and nuances in urban populations that could increase infection rates.

Dr. Piercey cautioned with these increases on testing of populations where spread is likely, the positive case counts will go up. "Keep in mind we expect the numbers to go up because we are going out looking for them," Dr. Piercey said.

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The new assessment focus comes as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded 9.3 million to Tennessee on Thursday for the expansion of COVID-19 testing.

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