NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In March, Governor Bill Lee authorized the activation of the Tennessee National Guard to assist with the fight against COVID-19. Since then, the Guard has been teaming up with the Department of Health and various other state and local agencies to combat COVID-19 in communities throughout the state. Establishing Remote Assessment Sites to test citizens and determine if they have been infected with COVID-19, over 2,100,000 tests have been administered at these locations, and the Tennessee National Guard administered more than 300,000 of those tests.
In early July, Meharry Medical College joined forces with the Tennessee National Guard to operate a drive-thru testing site in downtown Nashville next to Nissan Stadium. The number of tests being administered was immense, and having assistance from the Tennessee National Guard was a big help, explained Dr. Julie Gray, the site leader at Nissan Stadium.
“Our testing numbers were very high,” said Gray. “In the heat of the summer we really needed the extra manpower. The addition of the guardsmen truly assisted us when we needed it most.”
Gray, who has called Nashville home since she first attended Meharry Medical College in 1995, is currently a Dean of Student Affairs at the Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry. She praised the Tennessee National Guard for their commitment to the community.
“At Meharry we have a mission that says we serve our community through God,” said Gray. “The guardsmen definitely align themselves with that train of thought as well. They are very willing to help their neighbors in this fight against COVID-19.”
Initially, Gov. Lee requested 250 Soldiers and Airmen from the Tennessee National Guard to provide support in response to the pandemic. Since then, over 2,000 guardsmen have been activated in some capacity to serve their communities and many are still activated today.
Going forward, Meharry Medical College and the Tennessee National Guard will continue to test members of the community for the virus, helping limit the spread so we can conquer this enemy and get back to a sense of normalcy.
Pfc. Kathryn Ratliff works at the Nissan Stadium COVID-19 testing site, in downtown Nashville, Aug. 21. Since March, over 2,000 Tennessee National Guardsmen have been activated in some capacity to assist their communities in the fight against COVID-19. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Cordeiro)
Staff Sgt. Carl Terry guides a vehicle at the Nissan Stadium testing site, in downtown Nashville, Aug. 21. Since March, over 2,000 Tennessee National Guardsmen have been activated in some capacity to assist their communities in the fight against COVID-19. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Cordeiro)
Dr. Julie Gray, Dean of Student Affairs at the Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry, gathers personal information from a patient at the Nissan Stadium drive-thru COVID-19 testing site, Aug. 21, in downtown Nashville. Since early July, the Tennessee National Guard has teamed up with Meharry Medical College to test Tennesseans at the Nissan Stadium site, and has been operating up to 35 mobile testing sites across the state since March. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Cordeiro)
The Nissan Stadium COVID-19 drive-thru testing site, located in downtown Nashville, August 21. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Cordeiro)