Gov. Lee Announces Aggressive Statewide COVID-19 Testing Effort

Published 3:08 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Unified-Command Group to spearhead multi-week plan to expand testing capacity

NASHVILLE –  Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced free COVID-19 testing will be available for any Tennessean, regardless of traditional symptoms, as the Unified-Command group ramps up an aggressive effort to expand testing capacity across the state.

“As we look to reboot our state’s economy, we must have a greater understanding of how this virus is operating in Tennessee,” said Gov. Lee. “Expanding our COVID-19 testing capacity allows more Tennesseans to have improved access to testing which will empower citizens to make informed health decisions.”

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In recent weeks, states across the country have grappled with the availability of tests and supplies needed to conduct COVID-19 tests, as well as the backlog for processing tests. Rapid improvements to the testing apparatus allowed the Unified-Command Group, comprised of the Tennessee Department of Health, Tennessee Department of Military and Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), to develop expanded capacity and offer targeted testing across the state.

“Our clinical understanding of COVID-19 is changing rapidly and we need every Tennessean who isn’t feeling well, even outside of the traditional COVID-19 symptoms of cough, fever or difficulty breathing, to come out and get tested,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey.

The expanded testing effort launches this weekend, April 18-19, 2020, with the Tennessee National Guard popping up 15 drive-through testing sites across the state. Drive-through testing sites will also be available during the weekends of April 25-26 and May 2-3.

A full list of sites can be accessed here or within the list below. In addition to drive-through sites, all rural county health departments across the state offer free COVID-19 testing 5 days a week.

Tennessee Department of Health Nurses and Tennessee National Guard medics will perform tests at each site and results are projected to be delivered to participants within 72 hours of testing.

“Until there is a vaccine for COVID-19, quickly detecting this illness, isolating if ill and practicing social distancing are the most powerful tools we have to stop the spread and help our state return to work,” said Dr. Piercey. “I encourage every Tennessean to remember: ‘when in doubt, get a test’ as we work to identify COVID-19 cases and keep our neighbors safe.”

This Sunday, testing will take place at East Tennessee State University from 9 am to 3 pm. This is the closest location to Carter County for the first two days of testing.