New rapid COVID-19 test expected to be available at two East TN locations

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A new, rapid, COVID-19 test will soon be available in East Tennessee after being rolled out in Middle Tennessee.

American Family Care launched the new rapid tests at their Spring Hill clinic this week and they are expected to be available at their locations in Alcoa and the Knoxville Cedar Bluff area in the next 7 to 10 days. Click here to view the locations map.

Patients must register online for the test first. There is a $150 charge for the test. For more information visit their website.

All AFC Urgent Care facilities already had the Abbott molecular testing systems in place, typically used to test for flu or strep but now the same machine can produce COVID-19 test results within as little as 5 minutes.

AFC Chief Medical Officer Benjamin Barlow says patients can be in and out of their urgent care facility with result in hand in about 20 minutes.

“We are meeting them at the door, we are giving them mask, my staff is in their full CDC recommended PPE. They come to the room, we swab them right away and we get a result back in as little as 5 minutes as long as 13.”

Before now, AFC had been sending off test, leaving patients sometime waiting on results for weeks. 

“We were getting frustrated with the length of time and the patient was to so now the fact we can swab a patient and get a positive test in 5 minutes is pretty incredible,” Barlow explained. 

The test are designed to identify the virus by targeting small amounts of it and amplifying that portion until there is enough for detection, he said. 

“This is definitely a game changer as far as how we address this pandemic going forward.”

AFC plans to have the test at all 6 Nashville locations by the end of the week.

Knox County Health Department Director Dr. Martha Buchanan said during her daily news briefing on Thursday that increased testing will help get a clearer picture of COVID-19’s effects on the county.

She recommended that people call their primary care physian about getting tested. If your PCP is not testing, you can call the health department’s phone bank, 865-215-5555, to find testing sites. The KCHD is also testing by appointment only.

“We applaud the innovation of companies finding new ways and faster ways to test,” Buchanan said. “We want to urge our providers here locally to carefully vet any testing that is offered. We want to use valid tests to determine if people have COVID-19.”

Buchanan said that tests should be FDA-approved and that if a test happens to come back negative but the person is still showing signs of the coronavirus, the physician should use their “clinical judgement” in their assessment.

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