NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The Metro Public Health Department said on Monday that 119 people tested positive for COVID-19 who were seeking shelter at The Fairgrounds Nashville and the Nashville Rescue Mission.

COVID-19 has hit Nashville's homeless population particularly hard and a spike happened last week. 

Dr. Alex Jahangir, chairman of the Metro Coronavirus Task Force, said all who stayed at The Fairgrounds or the Nashville Rescue Mission were tested after four individuals staying at the Fairgrounds tested positive for the virus. One person at the Rescue Mission was admitted to the hospital for treatment.

"I want to thank the team at the Office of Emergency Management, the Metro Public Health Department, the Metro Department of Social Services, the volunteers and the staff at the Nashville Rescue Mission. They quickly activated and worked together and worked together to respond," said Jahangir. "Their quick action helped us contain the spread of the virus, but more importantly they saved lives."

There were 19 positive cases reported at The Fairgrounds, which is being used as a homeless overflow shelter, with 206 testing negative. At Nashville Rescue Mission, 100 residents tested positive for COVID-19 and 274 tested negative. Several tests are still pending.

Residents at the Rescue Mission who tested positive have been taken to the Fairgrounds to self-isolate in a building set up there. There are currently 115 people in isolation at The Fairgrounds who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Jahangir said on Monday that he visited the Fairgrounds on Sunday to ensure the patients were being cared for properly.

"We planned for incidents like this when we first opened the facility. Our plan is working out as expected," said Jahangir. "This is a separate building from the one used for housing residents who are well. It's set up so these residents can self-isolate in a safe place. We've also increased medical personnel at the Fairgrounds facility and our protocols are in line with CDC guidelines."

On Monday, NEWS 4 Nashville saw a number of vehicles come and go into the fairgrounds from an ambulance, to medical professionals, even a pizza delivery. Metro has also increased medical personnel at the fairgrounds.

Jahangir said the COVID-19 numbers may be high, but quick action helped contain the spread of the virus among the homeless. 

Davidson County saw an increase of more than 350 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend, which may not impact the timing of reopening Nashville since almost of the third of the reported cases were from the Fairgrounds cluster.

"We continue to analyze the information to determine the actual impact to the community spread of the virus, which will most likely be significantly lower than the 359 increase the new cases indicate," said Jahangir.

"We're closely monitoring the benchmarks required for beginning Phase 1 of our Roadmap and will continue to report on these metrics every morning," said Nashville Mayor John Cooper. "Now I know all Nashvillians are anxiously waiting to return to business as usual and many livelihoods depend on it, but a balanced approach today can further mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, help save lives and prevent a false start of our economic reopening."

The city's three community assessment centers are now testing from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. each weekday. Last week the centers at Nissan Stadium, Meharry Medical College and the former Kmart building in Antioch tested more than 2,500 people.

"This has expanded the testing in our city, giving residents easy access to free testing, which is a service we need to have in place as we move forward toward reopening," said Jahangir.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper and other officials address the city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic during a daily press briefing.

Related coverage

163 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths reported in Davidson County
Metro Will Not Change Housing Plans For Homeless
Health department investigating isolated outbreak at temporary homeless shelter at Fairgrounds
Mayor releases 'Roadmap' to reopen Nashville

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