(The Center Square) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee joined President Donald Trump on Thursday for a news briefing about initiatives to protect seniors in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump declared May to be Older Americans Month and announced the federal government will be sending supplemental shipments of personal protective equipment to all 15,400 Medicaid- and Medicare-certified nursing homes. He said he is directing $81 million of CARES Act funding to increase inspections in nursing homes.
The president also announced he will finalize a rule that requires nursing homes to report COVID-19 cases directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to post them online and to provide them to nursing home residents and their families. He is creating a commission to look into the safety and quality in nursing homes that will be led by industry experts, patient advocates and government officials. It will convene in May and provide recommendations on protecting seniors.
Lee was brought up to speak about Tennessee’s testing efforts. With help from the federal government, he said Tennessee was able to test 2 percent of the state’s population in April and has tested more than 175,000 people. He said the state plans to test every resident and staff in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes.
“You are guiding America through a tremendous crisis, and you are doing it incredibly well. … And we are grateful in Tennessee for the partnership between the federal government and states like ours as we work to make our contribution to fighting COVID-19, we can do so because of the work that you’re doing and the way that you’re supporting what we’re doing,” Lee told Trump.
The Department of Health reported Thursday there were 10.735 COVID-19 cases, including 199 deaths. More than 5,300 people have recovered, 1,045 are hospitalized and 177,626 tests have been conducted.
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. The disease has caused at least 63,515 deaths in the U.S., with more than 1.09 million confirmed cases in the country. COVID-19 symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.