Among the Nashville COVID-19 hotspots disclosed by the city’s health department on Monday are three facilities in or near downtown where the majority of positive cases have been found not among honky tonk patrons or nursing home residents but in children in the custody of the Department of Children’s Services.
At Hermitage Hall, an Eighth Avenue South residential facility providing mental health treatment to children ages 8 to 17, there are 69 children and 24 staff members who have tested positive since March, according to DCS data. All children and staff have since recovered from the virus.
At Standing Tall Music City, a privately-run Bordeaux neighborhood facility for boys 12 and up who have been involved with the juvenile justice system, there were 30 positive tests among children and 15 among staff — a figure that includes re-test data. All have recovered.
Absent from the list released by the Nashville health department is another cluster among children, this one at the Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center in east Nashville, where DCS data shows that ten youth and seven staff members tested positive. All youth and two of the staff members have recovered.
In total, 279 children and 271 staff members in facilities connected with DCS across Tennessee have tested positive for the virus.
The facilities, all 24-hour residential settings, include privately-run treatment centers under contract with the department, county detention centers and the DCS-run Wilder Youth Development Center, a secure detention facility for kids who have had multiple brushes with the law.
The children’s facilities have escaped the same level of scrutiny, and executive shut-down actions, from local officials in Nashville and other cities across the state as bars, restaurants and social gatherings. Nursing homes are regulated by federal and state officials who have implemented rules barring visitors, requiring regular temperature checks and other safety measures.
Privately run facilities that care for kids in DCS custody, however, answer to DCS, which has issued guidance that “strongly urges private providers who operate residential treatment facilities to conduct COVID-19 symptom and temperature checks on all employees and other essential personnel prior to entry into their facilities.”