Governor Bill Lee announced during the weekly Tuesday briefing that Tennessee will receive around 2 million rapid viral tests for COVID-19.
The tests from BinaxNOW will come in weekly shipments until the end of the year. Approximately 133,000 tests are scheduled to arrive next week.
“These are, as I said, rapid tests and they are point-of-care tests. And they will be used – importantly for us – in the continued reopening for schools,” Lee stated. “There will also be opportunity for these to be used in the continued strong approach that we’ve had toward protecting the elderly and nursing homes and long-term care facilities.”
According to Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey, the tests provide faster results at a cheaper cost of $5 to $6 apiece compared to $100. Typical wait times for COVID-19 test results in Tennessee average three or more days. However, some end up waiting weeks due to material shortages or a surge in testing. The BinaxNOW tests can administer results in 13-15 minutes.
“Now, we’ve had some of those on the market – but the differentiator here is these are done in the field. They don’t require any equipment, they don’t require any machinery. They can be done with trained personnel – and it’s not major training, it’s just training on how to run the test,” Piercey explained.
The health commissioner compared these rapid test results to home pregnancy tests: chemical reactions on the test card containing the swab will show one or two lines for a positive or negative result.
Delivery of these White House tests are a quick succession to President Donald Trump’s promise on Monday to deliver 150 million rapid tests across the nation.
In the same Tuesday briefing, Lee added that the state of emergency will continue through October. Federal funding factored into his decision. He also stated his intent to model Tennessee reopening precedent after President Trump’s decisions on the national state of emergency.
However, the governor is lifting all statewide restrictions on gatherings and businesses. The executive order also allows for senior centers to reopen.
This means that county mayors have the option to cease their mandates, such as masks and social gathering limits.
The governor promised to release a comprehensive plan for distributing the tests within the next several days.
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