Hamilton County will test everyone who shows up to their weekend testing facility for COVID-19, according to the health department.
At a news conference on Friday, when county Mayor Jim Coppinger announced that he will allow restaurants and stores to reopen in his jurisdiction following the lead of Gov. Bill Lee, Health Administrtor Becky Barnes said that the tests would be administered to anyone who shows up, not just the 720 with appointments for Saturday and Sunday.
"We aren't turning anyone away," Barnes said. "If you drive up and you haven't made an appointment, it'll be a little slower because we'll have to get your information from you then, but you'll be seen."
Barnes said that there will be a walk-up lane at the otherwise drive-thru testing facility at the county emissions testing center on Riverfront Parkway, to ensure that all citizens seeking screenings are provided with a swab.
With the county's lab able to test up to 550 swabs per day, results are expected to be returned within a couple of days of the sample being collected.
Coppinger said at the news conference that this abundant new testing, provided in partnership with the National Guard, along with contact tracing, help make him confident in reopening businesses, despite some pushback and a differing opinion from Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, who says he will not reopen businesses at an "arbitrary" date and is "distraught" that the surrounding area will open sooner.
Testing will be available from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at 1620 Riverfront Parkway on both Saturday and Sunday.