Gov. Bill Lee

Gov. Bill Lee

Gov. Bill Lee’s office issued a number of updates regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and testing. Listed below are some of the key elements of those updates.

Testing prisoners

Mass COVID-19 Testing of Tennessee’s Prison Population Unified Command Group announced all Tennessee Department of Correction inmates will be testing for COVID-19 beginning next week. The announcement follows results from Trousdale Turner Correctional Center where 1,224 inmates and 22 staff tested positive.

TDOC and TDH analysis of the test results confirm 98% of those who tested positive are asymptomatic.

Of the 1,156 new positive cases confirmed statewide today, 897 are from Trousdale Turner.

The statewide mass testing initiative follows additional, targeted facility testing TDOC conducted at the Bledsoe County and Northwest Correctional Complexes on April 10, and at the Turney Center Industrial Complex on April 19.

Guidance on Reopening ChurchesThe Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives released guidance for faith communities on gathering together in houses of worship.

The full guidelines can be found here and include:

• A phased approach to resuming in-person gatherings is recommended. Vulnerable populations (everyone 65 years and older, people with disabilities, people with serious respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, people who are immunocompromised, and others) and children’s activities/nursery programs should not gather in person until a later time;

• Consider solutions to minimize close personal contact that may be part of your services, such as handshakes or sharing food and drink;

• As the phased approach begins, limit the size of attendance in your sanctuary and other confined spaces to create seating arrangements that provide at least 6-foot distancing between families. It is recommended not to exceed 50% of maximum capacity of the room and should enable full compliance with CDC recommendations for social distancing and hygiene;

• Wear face coverings;

• Encourage members of the community to stay at home if they are symptomatic, have a fever, have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, or have traveled internationally or to a domestic hot spot in the past two weeks;

• If a member of the congregation has tested positive for COVID-19, consult CDC guidelines and local health department recommendations to determine whether in-person gatherings should cease immediately, the building should close for additional cleaning, or other protocol changes are required.

Executive Order No. 32Gov. Lee issued Executive Order No. 32 to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and provide relief for Tennesseans amid this pandemic.

The order concerns the following:

• Waives the fee for obtaining copies of business entity filings from the Secretary of State’s Office when such documents are needed to seek relief under a state or federal program;

• Extends the price gouging law for another 15-day period (the maximum allowed under law);

• Allows reimbursement for physical, occupational, and speech therapy via telemedicine for workers’ compensation recipients;

• Allows for discretion to utilize National Guard members in connection with TDOC operations or security if necessary, subject to certain conditions, including receiving prior TDOC-related training;

• Grants flexibility to the Commissioner of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities with respect to hiring requirements made difficult by COVID-19 if needed to maintain service levels for persons supported by the Department;

• Allows corporations to conduct remote shareholder meetings, as long as they meet certain requirements to ensure they adequately allow for shareholder participation;

• Extends deadline for qualified TNInvestcos to file annual audited financial statements with the Department of Economic and Community Development.

Unemployment claims

Department of Labor and Workforce Development Update As of Friday May 1, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development reported the payment of more than $350 million in unemployment benefits for more than 300,000 claims, including more than 40,000 for the self-employed.

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