Gov. Bill Lee offers National Guard to test at Tenn. businesses

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Gov. Bill Lee on Friday promised business leaders that he would send the National Guard to help their companies with COVID-19 testing should they ask for it.

Lee made the announcement while speaking on a livestream for a Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry event, where the Republican touted the state’s high testing rate while repeatedly pointing out that Tennessee was one of the first states in the country to reopen during the coronavirus outbreak.

The event was not included on Lee’s weekly public schedule.

During the middle of his remarks, Lee urged businesses to “engage in testing” as Tennessee continues to lift restrictions that were implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We will have the National Guard show up at your place and do testing with large sections of your employees,” Lee said. “It’s not only important for your employees to feel safe, but for your customers to feel safe and for Tennessee to continue to have a very good picture of the state of the virus in our general population and that can come from the private sector.”

It is unclear if businesses are already requesting and receiving testing support from the National Guard. Lee’s spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.

Lee began pushing to expand testing to any Tennessean regardless of whether they show traditional COVID-19 symptoms last month when he began reopening most of the state.

Since then, he’s also required testing to be conducted on all of the residents and staff at all of the state’s 700 nursing homes, as well as require testing at all of the state’s prisons.

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