Special panel releases guidance for summer camps, higher ed and non-contact sports in most TN counties
Some sports can resume, sleep-away camps can re-open, and colleges and universities can adopt updated guidance for re-opening this fall, a special task force said Thursday.
The guidelines from the Economic Recovery Group (ERG) created by Governor Bill Lee further open the state’s recreational opportunities in 89 counties as summer approaches.
Baseball, volleyball, golf, tennis and other sports get the green light to resume under the new guidelines. Crowds should be limited, locker room use is discouraged, and players should not share food or drinks, the ERG said. Contact sports, such as football, are still on hold for now. Football practices that do not require physical contact can take place.
Day camps had already been allowed to re-open. Camps with an overnight component will come back to life though a number of new rules, including “thorough pre-screening measures, limited mixing of campers and staff and modified sleeping arrangements,” the ERG said Thursday.
The announcement also included recommendations for colleges and universities in 89 counties. Those recommendations include policies for screening students, faculty and staff for COVID symptoms, maximizing opportunities for remote learning, and staggering work and class hours to help reduce the risk of person-to-person virus transmission.
Knox and five other counties will continue to adhere to locally-developed plans. Knox County’s rules for summer sports currently allow practices, but not games. The University of Tennessee is developing its own plans for resuming activity this fall.
PPE on its way to TN nursing homes
Forty-three Tennessee senior care facilities will get personal protective equipment from the federal government.
Materials were shipped May 19 and 20, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and FEMA. Supplies include eye protection, masks, gowns and gloves.
East Tennessee nursing homes set to get the PPE include Wellpark at Shannondale (Knoxville), Fort Sanders Sevier (Sevierville) and Tennova Newport Convalescent Center.
Two Tennessee nursing homes, one each in Gallatin and Athens, have seen deadly clusters of the novel coronavirus. Fourteen people at Life Care Center of Athens have died from COVID-19; the cluster at the Gallatin Center for Rehabilitation and Healing claimed 23.
Nashville hospital on standby with extra space
As many state and local officials toasted Tennessee’s relatively low case counts in recent weeks, work has continued to increase capacity at a Nashville hospital to handle a potential rise in COVID cases requiring serious medical attention.
Gov. Lee’s COVID-focused Unified Task Group finalized plans Thursday to establish an “alternate care site” at Metro Nashville General Hospital, according to a press release.
“Our hope is we do not have to activate the Nashville alternate care site,” state health commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said. “However, Nashville General will keep the facility on standby until TDH and Metro Nashville officials determine the extra patient capacity is needed for the region.”
The site occupies two floors of the hospital and provides 67 beds that would be used if severe COVID-19 cases overwhelm current hospital capacity.
Plans for a similar facility planned for Knoxville were dropped in early April as efforts to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 produced positive results. A 400-bed field hospital in Memphis became available May 18.
CVS brings drive-through testing to Tennessee
Pharmacy chain CVS says drive-through COVID-19 testing sites will open today at three Knoxville locations and one in Maryville.
Appointments must be made at CVS.com. Patients will use the pharmacy’s drive-through lane, where CVS staffers will give them a self-swab kit and make sure it’s used properly. The swabs will be sent to a laboratory for processing and results will be available in about three days, the company said.
The Knoxville CVS locations are:
- 9137 Middlebrook Pike
- 6005 Kingston Pike
- 9435 South Northshore Dr.
The Maryville location is at 103 Foothills Mall Road.
Drive-through test sites are opening at fifteen other CVS locations in Tennessee today.