Metro Health officials expand resources to keep up with COVID-19 testing demand

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As the delta variant surges, there has been an increased demand for COVID-19 tests, according to the Metro Public Health Department.

The change comes after patients complained about long wait time and the need for testing has grown in recent weeks.

“Over the last couple of weeks, last week our numbers began to increase, actually 3 weeks ago. Last week it dramatically increased and this week the trend is trending in an upward direction, unfortunately,” said Dr. Julie Grey with Meharry Medical College.

The testing and vaccination site at the old K-Mart, located on Murfreesboro Pike, has an additional testing tent, bringing the total number of tents to four. Three of those are being used strictly for testing while one will be used for vaccine doses. The addition of the extra tent will allow for two more lanes of traffic for testing.

“Because of the increase in cases and increased hospitalizations, it has really brought back to people and to the community that free access to testing is there and people really want to know their status,” explained Dr. Grey.

Dr. Grey says there could be multiple reasons behind the sudden increase, pointing to the rise in Delta Variant cases, students back in the classroom and local pharmacies struggling to keep COVID-19 test kits. Metro Health officials say one of the biggest reasons for the increase is continued vaccine hesitancy.

“It’s heartbreaking that we’re still seeing people die from it every day. It’s heartbreaking to hear about hospitals being at capacity when there is a simple solution, and that is to get vaccinated,” said Brian Todd with the Metro Health Department.

The latest data show more than 2,000 people were tested at the Murfreesboro site just this week, while 49 people received a vaccine dose on Wednesday.

“It’s extremely concerning to the health department, and it should be extremely concerning to everybody because getting tested really only tells you positive, you have the illness, or you don’t. It doesn’t really do what the vaccine will do in protecting you and protecting your loved ones,” explained Todd.

The Office of Emergency Management is working to expand even more by looking at adding additional resources at different sites. Right now, there is no word on when or where the additions will be made.

The Murfreesboro site will be open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. According to the Metro Health Department, officials have already reached out to the company that produces the results, urging them to increase staffing in order to insure test results come back as quickly as possible.

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