Governor Bill Lee addressed concerns about the impacts of COVID-19's fallout on Tennesseans on Tuesday after the state reported more than 2,000 positive cases.
The governor said the state continues to expand and see an increase in testing, but said "many more" lives will likely be lost to the virus in the state as it continues to spread. As of Tuesday, 23 Tennesseans had died to the COVID-19.
The governor's statewide 'Safer at Home' order goes into effect Tuesday night, ordering all non-essential businesses to temporarily close for weeks.
With businesses closing and joblessness rising in the short- and long-term -- Gov. Lee said he and health officials are concerned with the pandemic's fallout when it comes to mental health, particularly after Knox County health officials reported an uncharacteristic spike in suspected suicides last week.
"Last Friday, I was stunned to learn we had 8 suicides in Knox County in one day," Gov. Lee said. "My administration wants to be particularly committed to providing resources that provide a lifeline to Tennesseans that find themselves in a challenge place with regards to mental health."
Gov. Lee said state departments and mental health providers have been working together to deal with the growing need for mental health services by expanding telemedicine and other remote services as well as procuring protective equipment for mental health workers.
The governor said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also approved a grant Monday to provide mobile mental health services for rural counties, expanding access to behavioral care services through partnerships like ones through the Helen Ross McNabb Center.
Crisis walk-in centers, crisis stabilization units, and crisis respite services are also available for all 95 counties. You can find more information about these services at the state's Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services website.
For those who are uninsured, Gov. Lee said the state offers that safety net to ensure Tennesseans can access mental health services across all 95 counties.
Those experiencing a mental health emergency can call the Crisis Services and Suicide Prevention hotline at 855-CRISIS-1 or 855-274-7471.
"We need every Tennessean to be engaged. As you engage with those around you, be certain you are also looking out not only for their physical well-being and their financial well-being and emotional well-being, but their mental health well-being as well," Gov. Lee said.
The governor said the state will be working to do everything possible to help affected workers and businesses in order to get them back on their feet "once the storm clears."
State health officials also provided updates on procuring PPE for front-line responders and announced new additions to the way numbers will be reported by the end of the week.
Gov. Lee said the state has been aggressively working to secure extra PPE and ship supplies to all 95 counties -- saying they have seen significant response from companies willing to donate supplies. The state is also fostering a partnership across Tennessee through LaunchTN that will help connect companies to resources and address immediate needs for the COVID-19 response.
State health officials said they will be adding new statistics to the daily COVID-19 report, including negative results by county, projected recoveries, as well as deaths by county. They said the new statistics will be reported by the end of the week.