Tennessee To Conduct Mass Testing In Public Housing

The Tennessee National Guard will start offering coronavirus testing in the state’s public housing projects. It’s a continuation of more targeted testing that’s began last week, with mass testing of residents in nursing homes and in the state’s prisons.

Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey says residents in public housing are closer together. They’re also more likely to have underlying health conditions and lack access to transportation.

“There’s a lot of nuances in urban populations that could increase the rate of spread, and that’s why we are specifically targeting those areas,” she says.

Army medics plan to set up tents in public housing to swab residents for coronavirus. Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes says he expects they’ll spend two days at each complex, starting in Memphis and Nashville and coordinating with local health departments. They intend to finish in a week and a half.

“That’s going to be an enormous task, but it’s a doable task,” Holmes says. “The point will be to make it as convenient as possible to get tested.”

The state is moving to a more targeted approach for coronavirus testing, after offering testing for all comers over the last three weekends. Dr. Piercey warned today that the “surgical” testing will almost certainly spike the number of new cases reported each day.