Governor Lee, Dr. Piercey discuss pandemic as holidays approach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Governor Bill Lee held his weekly news conference after pausing for other meetings.

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With the holidays ahead, officials are concerned about people’s actions and where we are in the pandemic.

“I’m asking every Tennessean to make good, common sense decisions about a pandemic that spreads with close contact with people,” Governor Bill Lee said.

The COVID-19 case count and hospitalizations keep rising across Tennessee, and state officials encourage everyone to be responsible.

Even Governor Bill Lee said his own family isn’t gathering for their traditional dinner at the family farm.

“Until we have a widespread distribution of a COVID-19 vaccination available, holidays and routine choices that we make this year should look different,” Governor Lee said.

“COVID-19 patients are headed to the hospitals in record numbers in our state, and while we’re concerned about the COVID-19 patients, we’re also concerned about the other people that need access to healthcare,” Governor Lee said.

In Dr. Lisa Piercey’s health report, she said COVID-19 patients account for 20% of inpatient beds and 30% of ICU beds in the state.

“It is imperative that we take responsibility for our own actions to support the well being, not only of our healthcare workforce, but also our hospitals and their ability to care for all patients who need them,” commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Health, Dr. Lisa Piercey, said.

She also discussed numbers and testing, saying the state’s positivity rate over the last seven days was 13.9%.

The goal is to keep it under 5%.

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“We cannot control the spread of this virus if we don’t know who has it. So I implore you to get tested if you’re symptomatic, or even if you’re feeling well and think you may have been exposed,” Dr. Piercey said.

They also touched on the progress of a vaccine for COVID-19, and the distribution plan.

Two companies are in phase three of clinical trials for a vaccine, and officials reminded people that the first doses will be limited.

In the meantime, “we’re going to all have to, over this winter, over the next 8 to 10 and 12 weeks, remind ourselves that it is a season of common sense,” Governor Lee said

November 23 and November 30, certain testing sites across the state will have extended hours to help with testing needs before and after Thanksgiving.

The Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee National Guard will extend operating hours at 35 county health departments, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All 89 rural county health departments will be open Mon., Nov. 23, through Wed., Nov. 25. County health departments will be closed and will not provide COVID-19 testing from Thurs. Nov. 26, through Sat. Nov. 28, 2020.

In West Tennessee, the following health departments will have these extended hours:

Dyer Dyer County Health Department
1755 Parr Ave., Dyersburg
Fayette Fayette County Health Department
90 Yum Yum Road, Somerville
Hardin Hardin County Health Department
1920 Pickwick St., Savannah
Haywood Haywood County Health Department
950 E. Main St., Brownsville
Obion Obion County Health Department
1008 Mt. Zion Road, Union City
Tipton Tipton County Health Department
4700 Mueller Brass Road, Covington

For a complete list of statewide testing sites, click here.

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