Rapid COVID-19 tests coming to Tennessee brings questions


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Two million doses of a rapid COVID-19 test called BinaxNow are expected in Tennessee by the end of this year, but they come with few questions for top state officials.

“We’ll spend the majority of the rest of the week and into next determining distribution methodology,” says Tennessee Dept. of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey.

After a White House demonstration of the test that’s headed to all 50 states, getting the Abbott product to where it’s needed is a top priority for Tennessee.

“So that…we will know how to use these tests most effectively in our state,” said Gov. Bill Lee at his weekly COVID-19 briefing Tuesday.

He added that the rapid COVID-19 test will be used mostly in Tennessee’s K-12 schools.

The governor’s health commissioner seems sold on the test which will arrive in increments beginning with 133,000 doses next week.

“These are done in the field,” says Commissioner Piercey. “They don’t require any equipment. Don’t require any machinery.”

Training to use a card and a less invasive nose swab must also be figured out, but the health department commissioner believes the rapid COVID test brings results in a few minutes rather than days or weeks like current tests.

Dr. Piercey also touted the price.

“These are about five to six dollars apiece, compare that to a traditional swab which is 100-dollars a piece,” she said at Tuesday’s briefing with the governor.

The commissioner added the Federal Drug Administration says the rapid tests are 97-percent effective — “higher than anything else right now on the market.”

Gov. Lee indicated the rapid COVID tests could also be used in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. 

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