Remote site testing for COVID-19 is being added statewide in preparation for a wave of new cases. At this point, Vanderbilt Health is still operating most of them.
Most of Vanderbilt’s testing sites are at its walk-in clinics around Middle Tennessee. But a tent has even been set up in the parking lot of a warehouse in Nashville’s Woodbine neighborhood to handle the high volume.
Last week, 2,600 people were screened, according to a Vanderbilt spokesman. Now, Gov. Bill Lee says Vanderbilt has the capacity to take a thousand samples each day.
Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey says 11 testing sites were online as of Monday with 15 more opening this week. They’re run mostly by private providers, not public health departments. And they’re concentrated near population centers.
“Most of them are in the metro areas right now,” she said. “That does not mean we don’t need them in the rural areas. But right now, that’s where the population is, and that’s statistically where we are most likely to find cases.”
Most of the state’s confirmed cases are still concentrated in Davidson and Williamson counties, which is also where Vanderbilt operates the largest number of remote testing sites.
It’s unclear how much total capacity the state has for testing. The state lab has completed 350 tests. Private labs have now confirmed more cases than the state lab, but they aren’t reporting how many negative tests they’ve completed.
Either way, the governor says there’s more capacity than needed at the moment.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center has also been constructing a screening center in the parking garage across from its main hospital tower. But VUMC and other area hospitals are discouraging anyone from showing up to an ER if they believe they may have the coronavirus.