Getting tested for COVID-19 in Chattanooga, TN

COVID-19 testing is crucial | Pexels

Hi, NOOGA. 👋 Trista here, and I’ve got some good news — Chloé and I both got tested for COVID-19, it wasn’t a bad experience, and our tests came back negative. That’s a whole lot of winning. 🙌

Now, when I say it wasn’t a bad experience, I don’t mean it was necessarily fun. The swab is uncomfortable, but it is over so quickly and the process is efficient. You don’t even get out of your car.

Wait, why did y’all get tested?

We got tested for a few reasons. 👇

  1. We haven’t been totally isolated from people. We have been to stores, in our office building, and to doctor appointments. Because of this, we could have been exposed, so it was a safety measure to just make sure we aren’t spreading it when we leave our houses.
  2. We found out we were possibly exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
  3. It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s recommended that we get tested. Recently, Andy Berke said, “With COVID-19 cases continually rising in our city, it’s vital that all Chattanoogans get tested.” So, we got tested.

Should I get tested?

If you’ve been around people, it’s recommended that you get tested. And it’s free

Where can I get tested?

The Hamilton County Health Department has a calendar here with testing locations + times.


How long does the test take?

The test itself takes just a few seconds — it’s a quick swab in both nostrils. The whole process is around 10-20 minutes, depending on how many cars are in front of you.

How long do the results take?

It varies, but typically within 72 hours of the test. I got tested on a Friday and heard back the following Monday.

Does it hurt?

It doesn’t hurt. It is uncomfortable and it feels weird, but there isn’t pain during the swabs. (At least that was true for me and Chloé + our partners.)

Did you feel safe while taking the test?

Yes, we both felt totally safe. Everyone at the testing site was wearing masks + gloves, you put your ID in the windshield so no one is touching it, and the car windows provide a good sense of security

Overall, it’s a simple process, and it’s a good idea to take advantage of the free testing, especially since cases in Hamilton County are on the rise.

Chloé’s experience

I’ve actually been tested for COVID-19 twice now. The first time, it was a precaution because I was going to be around high-risk family members. The second time was after I was unknowingly in the same room as someone who tested positive. Both my tests were negative.

Before I got tested a second time, I googled to make sure there were enough tests, and found this article from NPR about how Tennessee is being aggressive in testing because anyone who wants a test can get one — even if you don’t have symptoms, even if you don’t have a doctor’s referral. 

For the first test, I went to a Kroger popup at Northgate Mall (which is no longer there). I was surprised when I realized they wanted me to do the swabbing. So I was tasked with sticking the swab up my nostril, holding it there for 15 seconds and then rotating it twice before taking it out and doing the same thing in the other nostril. I was worried I wouldn’t do it correctly, but it seemed to work out and my results were negative. Overall the entire process took about 15 minutes, and I got my results online in 48 hours. 

When I got tested again last week, it was through the Hamilton County Health Department’s testing sites.The line was short — only one car ahead of me. They did the swab for me, and you can watch the entire process here. It looks worse than it is because it really made my eyes water, but it’s not like I was in pain. The process for this one took about 10 minutes and I got my results online within about 72 hours. The health department also called me with my results.

Click here to watch Chloé get tested.