COVID-19 testing sites experience record demand in days before Thanksgiving

COVID testing lines
Posted at 8:28 PM, Nov 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-23 21:30:51-05

NASHVILLE. TENN. (WTVF) — With Thanksgiving just days away, COVID-19 testing sites are seeing record numbers of people looking to get tested for the virus.

"We're seeing about three times the average number that we would have seen," Meharry Medical College's Rahwa Mehari said.

The surge comes as cases surge across Tennessee, and as many people are planning to travel or see family for Thanksgiving. Testing sites across the state expanded their hours in anticipation of the crowds.

"We knew coming into this season that there's going to be a lot more people seeking out to go see families and gearing up to travel, so we were preparing," Mehari said.

Experts have warned against Thanksgiving gatherings, instead of encouraging people to hold virtual celebrations as a way to fight the spread of COVID.

A line of cars snaked through neighborhoods surrounding testing centers, with people waiting to get their noses swabbed. One patient said it took about an hour to work his way through the line outside Meharry Medical College.

Testing sites run by Metro Nashville will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday. Those centers are at Nissan Stadium, Meharry Medical College and at the former Antioch Kmart at 2491 Murfreesboro Pike. State-run testing sites will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Those testing centers are listed here.

Last week, state officials said they talked with their lab partners and they hoped to have results from Monday's tests before Thanksgiving. However, some patients who were tested on Monday said they were told results may take five to seven days.