Governor Bill Lee said Wednesday that at the end of March, Abbott announced the development of a new rapid COVID-19 test on the ID Now Machine. These rapid, point of care tests show a positive COVID-19 result in as little as five minutes and a negative COVID-19 result in about 13 minutes, he said.
The governor said, "The development and implementation of this technology will help states across the country test more people, faster and chip away at the testing backlog.
Yesterday, the CDC provided our state health lab with one ID Now machine and 120 initial tests. We are actively working to get more tests and maximize this technology.
"In addition to the state lab getting access to rapid, point of care tests, private providers in Tennessee are gaining access to this cutting-edge technology."
He said American Family Care operates clinics across Middle Tennessee and is deploying the use of ID Now at their clinics and has the capacity to test close to 4,000 Tennesseans.
Governor Lee said, "The aggressive efforts of the private sector have helped make our state a leader in testing."
On another topic, he said, "As Tennessee builds surge capacity, one of the most important components is ensuring we have qualified health care workers in the event that COVID-19 cases overload our hospitals.
"In March, I issued an executive order to help procure qualified medical personnel. That executive order loosens restrictions around retired medical professionals and temporarily suspends continuing education requirements for health care workers.
"Retired and furloughed health care workers are encouraged to sign up through the Department of Health portal if they are willing to serve. So far, over 800 health care personnel have engaged with us."
Governor Lee said United Command, through their work with Launch Tennessee, has developed a public-private partnership with HealthStream. HealthStream is a publicly traded, Tennessee company that provides education resources for 80 percent of hospitals in the country.
"HealthStream has offered its learning platform, COVID training content, and HealthStream employee support – free to the state – to facilitate the launch of these Alternative Healthcare Facilities for our surge planning.
"HealthStream has a tremendous reputation and we believe that their generous offer to make training resources free to the professionals, volunteers, and returning healthcare workers that will be staffing the Alternative Healthcare Facilities is going to ensure high-quality care is delivered."
The governor also said, "To support the self-employed and ensure they gain access to unemployment benefits during this hard time, The Department of Labor and Workforce Development is currently reprograming Jobs4TN.gov to accommodate the federal program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and the new $600 weekly federal benefit.
"The Department is working diligently to make these changes as quickly as possible so Tennesseans can start receiving both the state and the federal payment.
"If you are self-employed or an unemployed worker and you have already submitted a claim, you do not need to reapply. All Tennesseans receiving unemployment or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance will automatically receive the weekly $600 federal benefit, in addition to their unemployment benefit."
Governor Lee on Wednesday signed Executive Order 25, which extends the postponement of elective medical and dental procedures until April 30, 2020. The order:
- Helps ensure that PPE is preserved, and community spread through close medical interaction is limited during the upcoming weeks in which cases/hospitalizations are expected to increase;
- Expands EO18 to more specifically cover all procedures that are elective and non-urgent and can be delayed until after the Order without risking serious adverse consequences to a patient; and
- Limits attendance at surgeries and invasive procedures to essential personnel to preserve PPE to the greatest extent possible.
The text of the order can be found here.