A truck carrying personal protective equipment for health care workers to wear while helping patients with the coronavirus caught on fire on a highway in Smith County, Tennessee Saturday. The truck was carrying N95 masks and special hospital gowns, which were all unsalvageable and taken to a landfill. The driver and the truck's cab survived.
Emergency medical personnel told WKRN the fire began when a rear wheel sparked and caught fire near mile marker 262 on I-40. Firefirghters from four different fire departments in the area were called to help put out the blaze. Unfortunately, none of the masks and gowns could be used by hospitals any longer, so the load was taken to a landfill.
On Saturday morning, the Tennessee Department of Health reported 6,762 cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, in the state, reports The Tennessean. The number jumped by 173 cases in 24 hours. The death toll has reached 145 deaths in Tennessee, following three deaths on Friday. There are 1,680 cases in Davidson County, which includes Nashville, alone. The state has 719 patients hospitalized due to the virus, and 3,234 residents who tested positive have now recovered.
JUST IN: Semi truck hauling N95 masks & hospital gowns caught fire on I-40 westbound near mile marker 262 in Smith County. The masks & gowns will be taken to a landfill & dumped. No injuries reported. @WKRN— Josh Breslow (@JoshBreslowWKRN) April 18, 2020
📸: Smith County Insider pic.twitter.com/qVgo8DJVmz
On Wednesday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced all residents can get free coronavirus tests, regardless of symptoms. Testing locations drew long lines on Saturday, reports The Tennessean. The Robertson County site opened early after health care workers saw the long line. Hundreds of cars showed up at the Jackson fairgrounds, where police in masks and gloves were needed to direct traffic before the site opened at 9 a.m.
More than 20 drive-thru test sites opened Saturday in Williamson, Wilson, Robertson, Rutherford, Dickson, Maury, Montgomery and other counties. Eleven more test center sites will open on Sunday.
Lee extended Tennessee's stay-at-home order through April 30. He has also said schools will likely be closed for the rest of the year. Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said the state will create a COVID-19 Child Wellbeing Task Force.
"Children being out of school for such a long time has significant implications for a child's wellbeing, and this poses a different kind of challenge for all of us, as communities and as a state," Schwinn said Wednesday, reports NewsChannel5 Nashville. "There is critical work ahead, and I am honored to convene the COVID-19 Child Wellbeing Task Force in the coming weeks to focus state and local leaders on the wellbeing of Tennessee's children."