Gov. Bill Lee believes Tennessee is in compliance with federal guidelines to re-open the economy


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Federal guidelines require states to have a downward trajectory of flu and COVID like symptoms over a 14 day period before restarting their economy.

“For the past 3 weeks, both flu-like symptoms and Covid symptoms have steadily declined within the vast majority of our hospitals,” Lee said during Wednesday’s Covid-19 press briefing.

Tennessee Department of Health data shows a decline starting mid-March, but it doesn’t show numbers beyond April 4th. That data hasn’t been updated since April 10th.

Next- states must have a downward trajectory of documented cases or positive tests as a percent of total cases within a 14 day period.

“For the last 19 days, we have had a steady decline in the growth rate of new Covid-19 cases in Tennessee,” Lee said.

But- the state had a 448 case jump from Tuesday to Wednesday due to testing in the prison system.

“Our day over day increase..while it was up our overall positivity rate remains at 6.8% and this does not cause us concern….this was expected,” said Commissioner of Health, Dr. Lisa Piercey.

States also have to prove hospital capability – the ability of hospitals to treat all patients.

“We’ve kept a close watch on the capacity of every one of our hospitals and they continue to deliver on care without a change in our normal operations,” Lee said.

The Health Department says only 10% of cases have been hospitalized.

Covid-19 hospitalizations for the state

Then there’s testing, Gov. Lee says Tennessee is 12th in the nation for total tests and that anti-body testing will be here in a few weeks.

“The problem is that even if we test everybody for anti-bodies, we think that those anti-bodies are providing long term protection, but we can’t even say that for sure yet,” said Dr. Blair Reece with ETSU’s Quillen College of Medicine. “So I think anti-body testing may be a path forward in the future but I don’t think we’re quite there yet.

Although we aren’t sure exactly what will be in Gov. Lee’s re-opening plan- we do expect it to include continued social distancing and the request for people to continue wearing face masks and washing their hands frequently.

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