MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Leaders at the Shelby County Health Department said they’re waiting to find out how many rapid COVID-19 tests the county will receive from the state of Tennessee.
The Trump administration announced Monday 150 million rapid tests would be sent out to all 50 states, based on population.
“The Tennessee Department of Health will then divide up those kits across the state and allow us to use those test kits for particularly, getting children back to school,” Alisa Haushalter, Shelby County Health Department Director, said.
Shelby County Schools, the largest district in the state of Tennessee, remains in virtual operations. The district is not yet committing to a date to return to in-person learning. But leaders said it would include a phased-in approach.
“Shelby County Schools is discussing and re-evaluating several metrics and strategies with a return to in-person learning as our ultimate goal. We’ll continue exploring possibilities and options as we review data from the Shelby County Health Department," Jerica Phillips, Chief of Communications, with Shelby County Schools, wrote.
The rapid tests can return results in minutes, instead of days. Haushalter said widespread testing is the key to safe school operations.
“Where that’s going to be valuable in schools is it allows the school system to pick up teachers, other employees as well as students who may be positive much more quickly. So they can get isolated and prevent the mass quarantining for large numbers of students,” she said.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves was on hand in Washington D.C. on Monday for the testing announcement.
Reeves said Desoto County Schools, the largest school district in Mississippi, will be high on the priority list as his state works out details for handing out the rapid testing.
“It’s a large county in our state. They’ve also been one of the counties to have the highest positivity rate for the last several months. And so, there will be a large number of tests going to Desoto County and to Desoto County Schools,” he said.
WMC Action News 5 reached out to Desoto County Schools on Tuesday but did not receive a response as of press time.