NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WTVF) – Thousands of people lined up for a COVID test as Metro Nashville’s drive-thru facilities returned after the holidays.
Police were called in for traffic control at the Meharry Medical College site on 28 and Charlotte Ave, as cars lined up on the bridge an hour before the gates opened. Wait times varied and were at best around 30 minutes. At worst, they were about two hours.
It was the first day back from public driving tests in Nashville since last week, which meant some were probably waiting until that day to finally get tested. Not only were they worried they had been exposed to COVID while on vacation, but others were bracing for a full list of events in Nashville this week.
The Music City Bowl between Tennessee and Purdue remains scheduled for Thursday at Nissan Stadium. Meanwhile, CBS will host New Years Eve: Nashville’s Big Bash from Bicentennial Mall Park on Friday.
The NYE event requires proof of a negative COVID test or vaccination card for entry. Amber DuVentre coordinates testing at the Meharry site and says the mixed number of visitors meant testing people far beyond Davidson County.
“This is exactly what we noticed. That when the other counties finished their public tests, we were the catch-all for those counties, ”said DuVentre.
She went on to say that at least 30% of those tested on Tuesday were not residents of Davidson County. With limited public testing sites in surrounding counties and affordable home testing nearly impossible to find, DuVentre says demand for their help is increasing.
At the end of the day, approximately 1,100 people had been tested at the Charlotte site and 800 at the KMart site at 2491 Murfreesboro Pike.
“There is nothing we did not expect after the holidays. This is week 92 of us serving the city, so there are a few models you are looking for. With the release of the new variant, I think that has increased some of the traffic that we’ve seen here recently, ”said DuVentre.
Metro now offers mobile pop-up sites to help ease the burden of an already overloaded drive-thru system. On Tuesday, they opened a site at Gra-Mar College between 4 and 6 p.m.
Brain Todd of Metro Public Health says we can expect these sites to continue operating throughout the week and possibly into the next week.
“It offers another option in the neighborhoods to make it more convenient. We will continue to create more pop-up locations. One of the great things is that we have a stronger relationship with community partners than before, ”said Todd.
Pop-up sites will vary from day to day, as will their hours, so Todd says it’s important to check the city’s COVID response website for details. Drive-Thru clinics are open from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m., Monday to Friday.
If you have a question about getting tested, call Metro’s COVID-19 information line – 615-862-7777. The hotline operates from 8 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Drive-through tests will not be available on NYE Friday, but will return the following week.
Todd says the bottom line is we need more people vaccinated. While that hasn’t stopped some from contracting the virus, he says it will prevent these symptoms from sending you to the hospital.
DuVentre echoed much the same thing, saying that many of those who test positive have already been vaccinated. She says it’s best for everyone to take the necessary precautions to get tested, regardless of their vaccination status.
“You know your body and you know yourself. If you’re not feeling well in any way, it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry, ”said DuVentre.
If you’re showing symptoms, experts say it’s best to quarantine for at least two days before getting tested. They think it will help keep the lines manageable in the New Year. In the meantime, they recommend using over-the-counter medications just like you would with the flu. If these symptoms get worse, consider talking to a doctor or going to the hospital.