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Nashville COVID-19 testing centers switch to shorter swabs

Research shows longer testing swabs are not needed
coronavirus testing
Posted at 6:05 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 22:38:06-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — If you've avoided getting a COVID-`19 test because of the long testing swabs, you may be in luck. Metro Public Health has switched to using a regular size Q-tip at all three Community Testing Sites.

"We’re no longer going in 4-5 inches to try to get way back into the back of the nasal cavity," said Dr. Richard Fremont, Chief of Pulmonology Care at Meharry Medical College.

You'll remember when COVID-19 testing began, they had to use long swabs. New research shows that's no longer necessary. "As more studies were done, we realized it was just as effective to go to the front of the nose as it was to go deep into the back of the nose," said Dr. Fremont.

Over the last several weeks, all drive-thru testing centers in Nashville along with walk-in clinics at Meharry and Vanderbilt facilities have made the switch.

Local experts say there isn't anything dangerous about using those long-stem swabs but they like using the shorter ones because it makes people feel more comfortable.

Because of the demand for these shorter swabs, Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Director of Infectious Disease says supply could eventually be a concern. "As the availability of those things changes, that may necessitate we change from one type of device to another," said Dr. David Aronoff.

Metro Public Health officials tell NewsChannel 5 they'll stick with the shorter swabs for as long as the supply line holds.

If you go get tested, starting Wednesday, all of Nashville's drive-thru community testing centers will open at 7 am and close at 1 pm. Metro adjusted the hours in order to protect the clinic workers from excessive heat during the middle of the day.