Weekly Update: Free testing this weekend

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For several weeks now, our Test to Protect program has been in full-swing. As a reminder, this is “assurance testing” that helps our schools, colleges, universities, workplaces, and businesses to resume in-person activities with greater assurance and minimizes transmission risk.

Testing is done at regular intervals, such as every two weeks, once a week, or twice a week depending on what the organization chooses to do. When used along with other strategies, such as masking, social distancing, and handwashing, assurance testing is an effective tool that we use to fight this virus.

To show the importance of this type of testing, I wanted to share an excerpt from a letter a thankful parent recently sent:

I am writing to share the impact that the Assurance Testing program at the Lipman ELRC has had on my family. My five-year-old son tested positive for COVID-19 as part of this testing program in late September 2020. It was the single biggest shock of my life to open my email on a Tuesday morning, to casually click on the email link from Poplar Healthcare, as I had done several times already over the past weeks, and to see that big red POSITIVE blaring from my computer screen.

I share all this to illustrate; if this could happen to my family, it can happen to any family. We have no earthly idea how or where my son contracted COVID. But I am 100% sure that without the testing at the ELRC, we would not have known he was infected, which would have led to increased spread. About 10 hours after we received the positive test, he spiked a slight fever (100.5) and had an extra-long night of sleep. And that was it. No other symptoms. I was only taking his temperature because of the positive test, and he was not acting unwell. His temperature was back to normal in the morning. It’s entirely possible that we would have not even known he was “sick” without the positive test. We might have sent him to school the next day, not had any symptoms to report, and he would have passed the temperature screening at school.

As you can see, testing is extremely important to slow the spread of this virus.

Our hospitals continue to see more and more patients in need of serious medical attention. As you see in the chart below, the current numbers of COVID-19 patients hospitalized is higher now than at any other point since the beginning of the pandemic.


We must do more testing to control the spread. That’s why, starting this weekend and each weekend through Christmas, we’ll be offering free testing to any and all who would like to know their status. See below for more information.


Help is on the way: As you may have seen yesterday, Vice President Pence was in town discussing vaccine distribution plans. Leading up to this announcement, we received the information below from the state. It’s clear and concise, so I wanted to share it with you.

Tennessee’s Vaccine Plan
The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) has developed a preliminary structure for the allocation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The plan can be found here. The plan is subject to change given private sector dynamics and decision-making at the federal level.

TDH modeled this approach to allocation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines after review of the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdictional Operations and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine, and in consultation with Tennessee’s Unified Command Group and a stakeholder group of more than 28 partner agencies and offices.

TDH will ensure implementation of the COVID-19 Vaccination Program through tracking of provider enrollment, mapping of locations of vaccination services, monitoring performance of the Tennessee Immunization Information System and tracking of vaccine ordering and distribution.

Frequently Asked Questions

When will the vaccine be available in Tennessee?
We anticipate Tennessee may receive its first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in mid-December followed shortly by the initial allocation of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

How many doses will Tennessee receive?
We expect to receive 56,550 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in our first allocation.

Who will be eligible to receive the vaccine?
The first allocation of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be provided to frontline hospital health care workers. Further information on prioritization for vaccination can be found in the state’s plan here.

Where will the vaccine be made available?
The Pfizer vaccine will be shipped directly by Pfizer to hospitals approved as providers of this vaccine. The list will be provided in the coming weeks.

Where will updates on vaccine distribution be provided?
Tennessee providers of COVID-19 vaccine will report administered doses to the Department of Health via the Tennessee Immunization Information System. TDH will share data regularly on vaccine administration online at www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.html.

Over the next few months, we will be challenged as a community. But, I want you to know we have a plan, and we’re working that plan every day.

Memphis Youth Got Talent: Even though this year has brought so much uncertainty and fear to many of us, we must also take time to remember and see the good happening all around us.

In its fourth season and first televised event, Memphis Youth Got Talent is one of those good things. This talent show is designed to showcase the talent in Memphis and kickstart the application period for the Memphis Ambassadors Program and the MPLOY Youth Summer Experience Program. The Memphis Ambassadors Program (MAP) is a year-round enrichment program that engages 400-500 youth across the city of Memphis in grades 8-12. MPLOY offers youth and young adults ages 14-22 skills training, entry-level positions, and internship opportunities in various career paths.

The show aired this past Monday on the Library Channel. If you would like to catch a rebroadcast of it, you can do that this Saturday, December 5th at 8:00 pm and Sunday, December 6th at 2:00 pm on WYPL Channel 18 & 1092 – Comcast Cable Only and streamed here. You can also watch on the City of Memphis Office of Youth Services Facebook Page or their YouTube Channel.

For more information about our Office of Youth Services, visit www.cityofmemphisyouth.org.

Enjoy your weekend.


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