Tennessee – Coronavirus State Actions

Governors are working closely with federal and local officials as well as private sector partners to address the threat of the novel coronavirus. This page lists select actions taken to date. It is not intended to be exhaustive but is meant to highlight key actions and resources that may inform other states and territories as they prepare for and respond to the novel coronavirus. All state actions can be viewed here, or visit Coronavirus: What You Need To Know for additional information and resources.


Tennessee coronavirus resource page.

  • March 5, 2020—Governor Lee announced the formation of a task force to enhance Tennessee’s coordinated efforts to prevent, identify and treat potential cases of COVID-19. 
  • March 12, 2020—Governor Lee issued a State of Emergency to free up funds for the treatment and containment of COVID-19 
  • March 13, 2020 – The Governor issued further guidance regarding mass gatherings, schools, state employees and the State Capitol Building as more confirmed cases of COVID-19 surface in Tennessee:
    • Congregations and groups are urged to consider alternatives to traditional services by utilizing live streams, pre-recorded messages and other electronic means.
    • Events larger than 250 people are discouraged to limit exposure to COVID-19.
    • School districts have been advised to exercise discretion when canceling school for K-12 students. The state will provide further support for districts pursuing this action but urge districts to consider the prevalence of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in their area. In partnership with districts, students who depend on school-provided meals will still receive this support, regardless of school closure.
    • State employees who have been trained and certified to work from home within the state’s Alternative Workplace Solutions program will work from home through March 31, 2020.
    • State employees have been instructed to cease all non-essential business travel through March 31, 2020.
    • The Tennessee State Capitol is closed to tours and visitors through March 31, 2020. Members of the media will continue to have access to the State Capitol building.
  • March 16, 2020 – The Governor announced limiting all remaining legislative business to fulfilling the constitutional requirement of passing a balanced budget, and any associated actions that will ensure Tennessee can keep its doors open.
  • March 17, 2020 – The Governor urged all school districts in Tennessee to close by March 20 and remain closed through March 31. The Governor announced that during this time the School Food Authorities will have flexibility to continue to provide meals to at-risk students who rely on meals.
  • March 17, 2020 – The Governor also announced the following actions:
    • The Governor encouraged childcare facilities to remain open to support community needs and directed the Department of Human Services to relax the regulatory burden on child care centers.
    • The state will provide $10 million in response and recovery grants to support existing childcare facilities.
    • The Tennessee Department of Human Service issued a policy offering emergency cash assistance utilizing TANF funds. Assistance will be up to $1,000 for families of five or more who qualify and who have experienced loss of a job as a result of COVID-19.
    • The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is working to determine how to utilize the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. The Department will extend unemployment benefits to those quarantined by a physician for COVID-19.
    • The Governor’s amended budget includes $200 million to provide specific relief to county and city governments.
  • March 22, 2020 – The Governor issued Executive Order 17 calling on businesses to utilize “alternative business models” and prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people. The order also:
    • Orders restaurants and bars to offer only drive-thru, take-out, or delivery, and permits closed-container alcohol take-out or delivery;
    • Temporarily closes gyms and fitness centers; and
    • Limits visitation to nursing homes, retirement homes, and long-term care facilities.
  • March 23, 2020 – The Governor established a COVID-19 Unified Command to streamline coordination across the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee Department of Military. The Command will be led by Commissioner Stuart McWhorter.
  • March 24, 2020 – The Governor mobilized the National Guard to assist with expanding testing efforts. The mobilization consists of 250 personnel, including 150 medical personnel.
  • March 24, 2020 – The Governor extended work from home orders for state employees under the Alternative Workplace Solutions program, until April 24.
  • March 24, 2020 – The Governor extended statewide school closures until April 24.
  • March 24, 2020 – The Governor announced a series of administrative actions, including:
    • Delaying the deadline to file franchise and excise taxes until July 15;
    • Suspending the issuance of REAL ID through May 18;
    • Waiving emissions testing requirements through May 18;
    • Filing an emergency petition, in partnership with the Attorney General, an emergency petition asking the Tennessee Public Utility Commission to prohibit utilities from disconnecting services for non-payment during the state of emergency; and
    • Directing the Department of Commerce and Insurance to issue guidance to providers requesting flexibility for employers and individuals.
  • March 25, 2020 – The Governor announced the purchase of additional testing supplies using CDC funding.
  • March 25, 2020 – The Department of Human Services announced the use of emergency response and recovery grants for existing child care facilities, allowing churches, gyms, or non-profits to register with the Department to open an emergency temporary child care facility.
  • March 26, 2020 – The Governor announced the creation of Tennessee Talent Exchange, a public-private partnership with the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association, Tennessee Retail Association, and Hospitality TN to match out of work Tennesseans with companies currently experiencing business surges.
  • March 26, 2020 – The Governor signed an Executive Order to better mobilize health care workers, by:
    • Loosening restrictions around retired medical professionals returning to the workforce;
    • Temporarily suspending continuing education requirements so professionals can continue to work through the pandemic;
    • Calling for the availability of phone assessments for individuals with mental illness or emotional disturbances; and
    • Expanding telemedicine efforts.
  • March 26, 2020 – The Governor extended emergency cash assistance (TANF) for up to two months to families significantly impacted by COVID-19. Families who have lost employment or at least 50% of their earned income as a result of the pandemic are eligible.  
  • March 26 – The Governor announced the creation of the Talent Exchange, a public-private partnership with the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association, Tennessee Retail Association, and Hospitality TN to match out-of-work individuals with companies currently experiencing business surges.
  • March 29, 2020 – The COVID-19 Unified Command announced coordination with the Gallatin Center for Rehabilitation and Healing to address the COVID-19 outbreak at the facility:
    • The transport of 23 residents to Sumner Regional Medical Center via an ambulance strike team of EMS Professionals on Friday, March 27;
    • Engagement of the National Guard on-site to assist with testing;
    • Isolation of staff members who tested positive; and
    • Deep cleaning and disinfecting of the facility.
  • March 30, 2020 – The Governor issued an executive order issuing “Shelter in Place” guidelines, which will remain in effect until April 14.
  • March 30, 2020 – The Unified Command announced a partnership with LaunchTN to work with Tennessee businesses and entrepreneurs willing to switch production to make PPE.
  • March 31, 2020 – The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is working with behavioral health providers to expand service to individuals who need professional behavioral health help, including expanded telehealth services and mobile behavioral health care units.
  • March 31, 2020- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Tennessee’s request for a Section 1135 Medicaid waiver. The approved waiver enables Tennessee to provide flexibilities in Medicaid provider screening and enrollment, forgo certain pre-admission screening and annual resident review assessments, and allow for reimbursement facility services in alternative settings.
  • April 1, 2020 – The Governor announced coordination with the Army Corps of Engineers to prepare for a surge of hospitalizations.
  • April 2, 2020 – The Governor signed an executive order requiring Tennesseans to stay at home except for essential activities.
  • April 2, 2020 – President Trump approved Tennessee’s major disaster declaration, accelerating coordination with the Army Corps of Engineers and expanding statewide capacity by 7,000 beds.
  • April 3, 2020 – The Governor issued an executive order, which:
    • Grants with Commissioner of Health authority to expand telemedicine and allow post-degree, pre-licensed mental or behavioral health professionals to treat patients;
    • Suspends and extends deadlines for filing and paying taxes and applying for tax relief;
    • Grants the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development discretion to require expedited information in processing unemployment benefits claims;
    • Extends the law against price gouging for an additional 15 days;
    • Suspends the expiration of marriage licenses;
    • Extends the deadline for law enforcement officers to complete certain introductory POST Commission courses;
    • Extends the due date for driver license reinstatement installment payments;
    • Provides flexibility for Tennessee Corrections Institute county jail plans; and
    • Suspends requirements regarding deposit of funds at walk-in state service location.
  • April 6, 2020 – The Governor announced $200 million in grants to be distributed to every county and city government across the state for one-time, local expenses.
  • April 6, 2020 – The Governor announced $10 million in Small and Rural Hospital Readiness Grants to support hospitals.
  • April 6, 2020 – The Tennessee Division of TennCare submitted a waiver to the federal government seeking matching dollars to address the uninsured population.
  • April 7, 2020 – The Governor announced the Paycheck Protection Program, which offers fully forgivable loans to help small businesses maintain payrolls.
  • April 8, 2020 – The Governor signed executive order 25, extending the postponement of elective medical and dental procedures until April 30.
  • April 9, 2020 – The Governor announced a partnership with Nextdoor to provide official, real-time information to Tennesseans about the state’s response.
  • April 13, 2020 – The Governor issued an Executive Order extending the state’s Stay at Home Order until April 30.
  • April 13, 2020 – The Governor announced the development of the Economic Recovery Group to coordinate legislative leadership, local leadership, health care professionals, and industry representatives to reboot the economy.
  • April 15, 2020 – The Governor announced expanded COVID-19 testing in coordination with the National Guard, free to all Tennesseans, regardless of symptoms,
  • April 15, 2020 – The Governor called on schools to remain closed for the remainder of the academic year.
  • April 16, 2020 – The Governor appointed the Department of Tourism Development Commissioner to lead the Economic Recovery Group.
  • April 16, 2020 – The Governor announced the creation of the Stimulus Financial Accountability Group to oversee fiscal management of CARES Act funding received by the state.
  • April 17, 2020 – The Governor signed Executive Order 28, removing regulatory barriers to facilitate the treatment of COVID-19, including:
    • Extending the deadline for firefighters to obtain a medical examination;
    • Suspending the collaborating physician requirement for nurse practitioners and physician assistants;
    • Allowing nursing school graduates to work during the emergency order under the supervision of a licensed nurse;
    • Allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to write orders for home health services;
    • Expanding the facilities in which autopsies may be performed;
    • Allowing medical laboratory personnel to work from home in reviewing data and reporting results;
    • Protecting HIPAA information sent by the DoH to first responders and law enforcement personnel; and
    • Extending the price gouging law for an additional 15 days.
  • April 17, 2020 – The Tennessee Department of Human Services announced new child care assistance to support families serving in essential workforce positions.
  • April 17, 2020 – The Governor announced expanded testing, with the Tennessee National Guard establishing 15 drive-through testing sites.
  • April 20, 2020 – The Governor announced that Tennessee’s Stay at Home order will expire on April 30th, and a vast majority of businesses will be allowed to reopen on May 1st.
  • April 21, 2020 – The Governor announced that the first four grants of a $10 million grant program were distributed to support hospitals facing financial strain.
  • April 21, 2020 – The Tennessee Department of Health’s Office of Minority Health Disparities Elimination provided an overview of efforts to engage minority communities seeking testing and treatment. Actions include:
    • Engagement of non-profits, faith leaders, legislators and local leaders;
    • Expanded testing efforts to coordinate with local health clinics and safety net clinics;
    • Focused resources to improve race and ethnicity date collection; and
    • Additional public service announcements focused on minority health concerns
  • April 21, 2020 – The Governor announced nearly 500,000 job openings currently listed on WorkInTexas.com, a job matching service developed by the Texas Workforce Commission.
  • April 22, 2020 – The Tennessee COVID-19 Unified-Command Group released data regarding the state’s long-term care facilities and outlined a plan for preventing future cases and mitigating present clusters of cases within these facilities.
  • April 23, 2020 – The Governor announced the following initial guidance on retail industry reopening:
    • Restaurants operating at 50% capacity and following guidance will be allowed to open on Monday, April 27; and
    • Retail outfits operating at 50% and following guidance will be allowed to open on Wednesday, April 29.
  • April 23, 2020 – The Department of Labor and Workforce Development issued an update on actions to support Tennesseans including system upgrades and benefit distribution.
  • April 23, 2020 – The Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner announced that most state parks will reopen for day-use only on Friday, April 24.
  • April 24, 2020 – The Governor issued guidance to restaurants and retailers as part of “Tennessee Pledge,” the state’s rollout approach to reopening businesses in 89 of 95 counties.
  • April 24, 2020 – The Governor signed Executive Order 29, amending Executive Order 17 and allowing restaurants to begin reopening n April 27.
  • April 27, 2020 – The Governor released Universal Guidance for Tennessee Businesses, found here.
    • The Governor released additional guidance for the Restaurant Industry here, and additional guidance for the Retail Industry here
  • April 27, 2020 – The Unified-Command Group announced the free testing of more than 7,000 Tennesseans – regardless of symptoms – at drive-through sites across the state.
  • April 27, 2020 – The Governor directed the Tennessee Department of Finance & Administration to temporarily freeze any new non-mission critical hires to the state’s workforce.
  • April 27, 2020 – The Governor announced that elective medical procedures will be allowed to resume on May 1.
  • April 28, 2020 – Tennessee’s Economic Recovery Group issued guidance for gyms and exercise facilities to reopen safely beginning May 1.
  • April 28, 2020 – The Governor signed Executive Order 30, repealing Executive Orders 17, 21, 22, 23, 27, and 29. The Order will, among other things:
    • Maintain the prohibition on gatherings of 10 or more people, with the exception of places of worship, weddings and funerals;
    • Allow certain businesses to return to work in compliance with health guidelines;
    • Mandate that entertainment and recreational gathering venues remain closed;
    • Provide guidance regarding limited service in restaurants and take-out and delivery of alcohol;
    • Provide guidance to nursing homes and like long-term care facilities regarding visitation; and
    • Outline requirements to the public writ large.
  • April 29, 2020 – The Governor issued Executive Order 31, extending the prohibition of non-emergent dental services until May 6.
  • April 29, 2020 – The Governor announced that close contact services, such as salons and barbershops, will be able to reopen on May 6.
  • April 30, 2020 – The Tennessee Economic Recovery Groups released guidance for close contact services to reopen beginning May 6.
  • April 30, 2020 – The Governor announced that his Administration has been working with the Tennessee Medical Association to prepare for the expiration of Executive Order No. 25, and the resumption of elective and non-urgent medical procedures beginning May 1.
  • May 1, 2020 – The Unified Command Group announced a mass testing strategy for all Tennessee Department of Correction staff and inmates in their care.
  • May 1, 2020 – The Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives released guidance for faith communities on gathering together in houses of worship.
  • May 1, 2020 – The Governor signed Executive Order No. 23, outlining plans to further mitigate COVID-19, including:
    • Waiving fees to obtain copies of business entity filings for purposes of seeking relief under a state of federal program;
    • Extending the price gouging law for another 15-day period;
    • Allowing reimbursement for physical, occupational, and speech therapy via telemedicine for workers’ compensation recipients;
    • Allowing for discretion in utilization of National Guard members in connection with TDOC operations or security;
    • Granting flexibility to the Commissioners of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities with respect to hiring requirements made difficult by COVID-19;
    • Allowing corporations to conduct remote shareholder meetings; and
    • Extending the deadline for qualified TNInvestco to file annual audited financial statements with the Department of Economic and Community Development.
  • May 4, 2020 – The Governor announced that more than 23,000 Tennesseans received free COVID-19 test at more than 67 drive-through testing sites as part of the Unified Command Group’s efforts to broaden testing access.
  • May 5, 2020 – The Unified Command Group announced two strategic partnerships to provide Tennessee households and health care workers with protective face coverings and PPE.
  • May 5, 2020 – The Governor signed Executive Order No. 33, allowing the safe reopening of close contact services.
  • May 5, 2020 – The Governor announced that, under guidelines set by the Tennessee Board of Dentistry and the American Dental Association, dental procedures will resume on May 6.
  • May 6, 2020 – The Tennessee Economic Recovery Group released additional guidance for recreation, offices, lodging, construction and  manufacturing, small group, and non-contact recreation businesses to reopen on May 8.
  • May 7, 2020 – The Governor signed Executive Order No. 34, allowing government bodies to hold meetings remotely until June 30.
  • May 7, 2020 – The Governor signed Executive Order No. 35, allowing the reopening of small group, non-contact entertainment and recreational venues.
  • May 8, 2020 – The Governor announced next steps for the Unified-Command Group.
  • May 12, 2020 – The Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and the Tennessee Department of Health announced a collaboration to increase testing accessibility for intermediate care facilities and members of the Employment and Community First CHOICES program.
  • May 12, 2020 – The Governor signed Executive Orders 36 and 37, extending the state of emergency from May 18 until June 30.
    • The orders discontinue provisions around expanded scope of practice for nurses and physician assistants and the reimbursement for physical occupational, and speech therapy via telemedicine – now reimbursable under federal guidelines. The orders amend provisions:
      • Extending health care licenses, certificates, and registrations;
      • Delaying the due date for health care license application fees;
      • Expanding testing facilities;
      • Extending price gouging protections;
      • Extending deadlines and payments for motor vehicle registration and driver license renewals;
      • Suspending inspections of light-duty motor vehicles;
      • Extending enhanced handgun carry permits;
      • Suspending deadlines for persons with interlock ignition devices;
      • Suspending time limits regarding civil asset forfeiture proceedings; and
      • Extending professional educational and training deadlines.
  • May 13, 2020 – The Governor announced coordination between the Unified Command Group and the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) to provide free, voluntary COVID-19 testing for families and residents at 14 MDHA communities in Nashville.
  • May 15, 2020 – The Unified Command Group announced continued efforts to expand free, voluntary testing to vulnerable populations in coordination with housing authorities in Knoxville and Memphis.
  • May 15, 2020 – The Economic Recovery Group announced the lifting of capacity restrictions on restaurants and retail effective May 22.
    • The Group also issued guidance to facilitate the reopening of large, non-contact attractions on or after May 22.
  • May 18, 2020 – The Governor announced the completion of an alternate care site in Memphis that can treat 401 individuals that have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • May 19, 2020 – The Governor announced the final distribution of $10 million in Small and Rural Readiness Grants to support smaller hospitals facing financial strain.
  • May 20, 2020 – The Unified Command Group announced coordination with the Chattanooga Housing Authority to provide free testing to families and residents who would like to receive tests at four CHA communities.
  • May 20, 2020 – The Economic Recovery Group issued updated guidance to restaurants and retailers, as well as new guidance for attractions and larger venues to reopen with social distancing and capacity restrictions.
  • May 22, 2020 – The Governor issued Executive Order 38, allowing groups of up to 50 people to participate in social and recreational activities while encouraging strong social distancing measures.
  • May 29, 2020 – The Unified Command Group released a new report on the state’s efforts to protect long-term care facility residents. The report can be found here.
  • June 2, 2020 – The Governor announced a new relief program for Tennessee businesses affected by COVID-19. The Tennessee Business Relief Program will direct approximately $200 million in federal funds directly to qualifying small businesses.
  • June 4, 2020 – The Economic Recovery Group (ERG) issued updated guidance for close contact service businesses, exercise facilities, and recreation activities under the Tennessee Pledge. The ERG also added recommendations for large community events.
  • June 10, 2020 – The Governor, in coordination with the Unified Command Group, released guidance to provide limited visitation options for long-term care facilities.
  • June 10, 2020 – The Economic Recovery Group announced a partnership with the University of Tennessee to assist in the collection and analysis of survey data, tracking citizens’ sense of safety and economic well-being as the state reopens.
  • June 18, 2020 – The Unified Command Group announced that nearly all of Tennessee’s 700 long-term care facilities have completed the required COVID-19 testing of residents and staff.
  • June 18, 2020 – The Governor’s Economic Recovery Group developed the TN Strong Mask Movement, partnering with more than 30 flagship brands to distribute close to 300,000 free or low-cost cloth face coverings across the state.
  • June 29, 2020 – The Governor signed Executive Order No. 50, extending Tennessee’s State of Emergency until August 29.
  • July 1, 2020 – The Governor issued an executive order extending COVID-19 civil liability protection to health care providers, announcing  lawsuit immunity.