State changes COVID testing methods, times

A National Guard medic performs a COVID-19 test during the drive-thru testing.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s office announced recently that all 89 state Health Departments will be changing COVID testing methods, dates and times. 

Starting Monday, Dec. 21, Health Departments will begin offering self-testing kits each Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Citizens can go by the health department’s drive thru, complete a self-test kit, and have it shipped to the lab. There is no cost for the kit or test. 

Drive thru testing at the Putnam County Fairgrounds will be available only on Tuesday for the next two holiday weeks then Tuesdays and Thursdays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. after the holidays. 

Holiday Testing Schedule:
Testing at the Putnam County Fairgrounds
Tuesday, Dec. 22 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 29, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 5, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 7, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Self-testing kits at the Putnam County Health Department
Monday, Dec. 21, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 23, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 28, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 30, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Putnam County Health Department is state operated along with 88 other counties in Tennessee. Contact the Putnam County Health Department at 931-528-2531 or the Tennessee Department of Health at 615-741-3011 with any questions.

Here’s the full press release from the state:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Health COVID-19 testing sites across the state will begin offering self-testing kits to adults three days a week December 21, to allow staff members to transition to vaccination of frontline health care providers and first responders. Local county health departments will continue to offer COVID-19 testing five days a week at no charge for anyone who wishes to be tested.

“We’re making this transition so our Department of Health staff can assist with administration of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “State-run health departments currently collect an average of only 16% 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 COVID-19 self-tests will be offered to adults on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays beginning Dec. 21. On these days, public health staff members at each TDH COVID-19 testing site will provide self-testing kits to adults who wish to be tested. Individuals will remain in their vehicles while completing paperwork and collecting their samples. Health departments will submit the samples for testing.

Adults tested with the new self-tests will register and receive their results online. The self-tests are not approved for use in children under age 18. Children and adults unable to register online can still receive the standard nasal swab COVID-19 tests on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Test results may be available within 72 hours of arrival at the lab, depending on the volume of tests the testing lab receives. Information will be provided to participants at testing locations on what they can expect after being tested. This information is also available online at

COVID-19 testing is widely available in Tennessee from local health departments and other health care providers. A map of COVID-19 testing sites across the state is available at Hours of operation and contact information are provided for each site.

TDH county health departments will be closed and will not offer COVID-19 testing Dec. 24 – 25 and Dec. 31, 2020 – Jan. 1, 2021 in observance of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

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