'Meharry probably saved Nashville. COVID testing center at Nissan Stadium closes as cases fall

Last Day at Nissan Stadium
Posted at 6:00 PM, Jul 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-16 19:27:46-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Parking Lot N at Nissan Stadium is back to its normal function after being the epicenter of COVID-19 testing in Nashville for almost a year and a half. Meharry Medical College, who at one point oversaw all three of the city's COVID testing centers, say they saw a lot over the last 16 months.

"It’s very bittersweet to see where we are, but we’re so pleased to know that we don’t have as many people coming to test.," said Dr. Julie Gray, Associate Dean for Community-Based Collaboration at Meharry Medical College.

At the worst of the pandemic, the Nissan Stadium testing site set a single-day record of 1,500 noses to swab. "When we started 67 weeks ago, we were literally all hands on deck," said Amber DuVentre, who is in charge of logistics at the Meharry-ran testing centers.

These days, it's just a fraction of that. They say 100 cars if they're lucky. "Wonderful problem to have," added Dr. Gray.

Certainly, this doesn't mean the COVID-19 threat is over, but Dr. Alex Jahangir, Chair of the Metro Coronavirus Task Force, says it's time to close this location down. "Cases have gone down, but secondly there’s so much more access to testing around this city," he said.

Dr. Jahangir says just one testing and vaccination location at the old K-Mart parking lot in Antioch can now handle the caseload, even with the Delta Variant and Tennessee's sluggish vaccination rate. "Sure it’s of concern, but it’s not really of concern if you’ve been vaccinated. So get vaccinated," he said.

But he doesn't want this moment to pass without a moment of thanks to Meharry Medical College. "I think we need to remember in the next 100 years as when Meharry Medical College probably saved Nashville," said Dr. Jahangir.

Because over the course of the last 16 months, when Nashville was in trouble, volunteers and the local medical school who made it all happen, rose to the occasion.

"We’ve had a job to do and we’ve done it with a smile on our face," said Dr. Gray.

"There's an African proverb: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. And that’s exactly what we did," said DuVentre.