Demand for COVID-19 testing is expected to surge again this week, following the Independence Day holiday and its gatherings of families and friends. And while Tennesseans have been encouraged to get tested, even without symptoms, finding the right testing site has remained a challenge because private providers often won’t test without symptoms.
For many, their first call is to their doctor, but very few primary care practices are offering coronavirus testing in the first place. Many have found it too difficult to maintain infection control and carry on with typical business.
There are some new walk-in clinics that specialize in COVID-19 testing, such as Complete Health Partners, which is offering curbside testing. CVS has even started offering a drive-up option in Tennessee with its Minute Clinics.
At private providers, many patients have been surprised that they do need symptoms, direct contact with someone who has COVID-19 or other risk factors to get a test. But that’s because those providers need to justify the medical appropriateness if health insurance is going to cover the full cost.
Confusion persists because many of the private sites are listed on the state’s map showing COVID-19 testing locations.
But only health department locations are truly free, and they don’t try to charge insurance and don’t require a patient to call ahead.
In many counties, the National Guard is helping to run these sites. In Nashville, Meharry Medical College has taken charge of running three drive-thrus. The hours vary by location, and there have been lines of an hour or more in recent days, but it’s the quickest way to get a purely precautionary test.
Receiving results is taking a bit more time these days because of the record numbers being tested each day. While some will still get an answer in 48 hours, for others, it’s been three days or more.