Tennessee saw an increase of 1,156 new confirmed cases of coronavirus reported May 1, a spike state officials are attributing to an outbreak in a prison in Trousdale County, northeast of Nashville.
State officials confirmed more than 1,246 total positive cases at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center. About 897 of those positive cases were reported May 1, and the remaining 259 reported on the same day were from the general public, according to Gov. Bill Lee. Both staff and inmates have tested positive for the virus.
Lee announced May the state will begin an initiative next week to test all staff and inmates in the Tennessee Department of Corrections.
“Knowing the extent of the virus’s spread within our correctional facilities is critical as incarcerated individuals remain one of the most vulnerable populations during this pandemic,” Lee said in a statement. “Thanks to our increased capacity, we’ll test all inmates and staff statewide in order to take appropriate actions to safeguard the health of these vulnerable individuals.”
According to data from the TDOC and the Tennessee Department of Health, about 98% of confirmed cases in the Trousdale facility were asymptomatic. Lee said inmates with confirmed cases are receiving daily medical monitoring and are housed separately from inmates who tested negative for the virus.
TDH Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said not accounting for the total cases from the prison, the state only had a 2.4% day-over-day increase in new cases.
"That's in line with what we've been seeing in the general community and that does not cause us concern," Piercey said. "However, as the governor mentioned, obviously 1,246 total cases at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Facility do cause us concern."
Piercey said some of the cases from Trousdale were announced previously; some were announced May 1, and the state expects to announced more tomorrow.
"Take that into consideration as well as the fact that some of the staff doesn't live in Trousdale County, and [those cases are] assigned to their county of residence," Piercey said.
Lee also announced in a press conference May 1 the state will test nursing homes across the state.
“We know it is a very vulnerable population, and we are committed to doing whatever it is we need to do to keep them safe,” Lee said.