NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Since March, Tennessee Public Health officials have spent countless days and hours testing for COVID-19. Soon, those efforts will be slowed down.
In a letter released Monday, the Tennessee Department of Health announced self-testing kits would roll out next week as healthcare providers prepare to administer vaccinations.
“You’ve been coming to our emergency operations center Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.,” said Jim Tanner, Hickman County Emergency Management Director. “The time frame is the same as far as 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., but the days will be Tuesday and Thursday only.”
Tanner posted a virtual update on the department’s Facebook page. He says Hickman county had 173 active cases of COVID-19, as of Monday. Tanner said that is the highest number they’ve seen thus far.
Like most counties across Tennessee, Hickman County will trade out traditional COVID-19 testing and allow adults 18 or older to self-test by collecting their own nasal swabs.
“A lot of that has to do with preparing for vaccinations,” said Tanner, “Just trying to get ready for all of that with our public health partners.”
This only applies to state-run testing sites and does not impact operations at local health departments.
Next week, Tennessee Department of Health COVID-19 testing sites will begin offering self-testing kits to adults as staff members transition to administering vaccines to health care workers and first responders.
TDH will distribute self-testing kits three days a week, while local county health departments will still offer free COVID-19 testing five days a week.
“We’re making this transition so our Department of Health staff can assist with administration of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines,” Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said. “State-run health departments currently collect an average of only 16 percent of all COVID-19 tests statewide, and our change will not affect the wide availability of testing through private providers in Tennessee. While the arrival of vaccines is welcome, it is imperative that we not let up on basic best practices and continue to protect each other by wearing masks, practicing social distancing and staying home when sick.”
The new self-testing kits will be offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays beginning December 21. Individuals will stay in their cars, complete paperwork, and collect their samples. Health departments will submit their samples for testing. Results will be available online.
Self-tests will be available for adults over the age of 18. Children and adults unable to register online can still receive standard nasal swab COVID-19 tests on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
For a complete list of COVID-19 testing sites, click here.
TDH county health departments will be closed December 24-25 and December 31-January 1.
COVID-19 in Tennessee
(This reflects what the TDH reports each day. )
Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.