NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Consistent with #EmptyHospitals trending on Twitter, Nashville area testing centers and hospitals show a high level of preparedness for an onslaught of potential COVID-19 patients, but little to no signs of activity.
As part of the Nashville COVID-19 response, three testing centers were set up at Nissan Stadium, Meharry Medical College and a former Kmart on Murfreesboro Pike in Antioch.
The three centers are open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. free of charge to Nashville residents.
All three Nashville community assessment centers were viewed by The Tennessee Star on Wednesday between late morning and early afternoon.
All three assessment centers are areas fenced in or closed off to the general public, enforced through heavy law enforcement presence.
There were numerous healthcare workers at each location, dressed in scrubs and donning masks and gloves, prepared to attend to anyone in need of COVID-19 screening.
The centers also had elaborate queues marked off with traffic cones to accommodate an extensive number of vehicles.
The other thing that all three community assessment centers had in common is that there was no one there to be tested.
Healthcare workers could not be accessed to inquire as to the level of activity on Wednesday, but law enforcement and security guards present confirmed the activity level was very low.
Numerous citizens around the country have taken to filming activity levels at their local hospitals and posting to Twitter using #emptyhospitals and #FilmYourHospital.
The trend may have started with Todd Starnes of Starnes Media Group, host of Todd Starnes News & Commentary and author of “Culture Jihad.”
On March 28, Starnes posted a video he recorded with the comment, “This is the ‘war zone’ outside the hospital in my Brooklyn neighborhood.”
This is the “war zone” outside the hospital in my Brooklyn neighborhood. https://t.co/66FZ9VO3Jj
— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) March 28, 2020
In contrast to what New York’s governor and mayor have said, Starnes describes the scene as “very calm, very quiet out here. There’s not much going on at all.”
“As near as we can tell at this moment, and again, things may change periodically, but as it now stands there is not massive chaos outside this hospital.”
“Instead of what the mainstream media is telling you,” Starnes narrates on his approach to the outdoor tents set up for coronavirus testing, “as you can see, not much happening.”
As Starnes pans the tent area and there is no one approaching the tent or standing in line, Starnes explains, “This is a hospital that serves thousands and thousands of people here in downtown Brooklyn, New York.”
At Vanderbilt Hospital, Meharry Medical College, St. Thomas Midtown Hospital and TriStar Skyline mostly empty parking lots were observed.
At the emergency room entrances, there was more of a sense of calm and desolation rather than the overruns that have been projected and portrayed.
Much the same was observed at two Sumner County hospitals, Sumner Regional Medical Center in Gallatin and TriStar Hendersonville Medical Center.
Sumner County currently has the third highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at 376, and the highest number of deaths at 18, according to Wednesday’s data from the Tennessee Department of Health.
Actual observations are consistent with reports from Tennessee’s Department of Health.
Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey reported that Tennessee hospitals are “still in a good position,” with just 36 percent of inpatient beds being used, 35 percent of ICU beds being used and 75 percent medical ventilators unused, according to Fox 17 News Nashville’s scrolling breaking news banner Wednesday morning.
The CDC and White House Coronavirus Task Force has relied on the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) model for projections relative to hospital beds, ICU beds, ventilators and deaths.
IMHE predicts that Tennessee will reach its peak resource requirements in 9 days, on April 17.
At that point, of the 7,812 of all beds available, just 1,244 are expected to be needed. For ICU beds, IMHE projects 252 of the 629 will be needed on or around April 17. Ventilator needs are expected to be about 214, although there is no data for the number available in the IHME model.
As The Gateway Pundit reported, just last week, White House Coronavirus Task Force Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said that by locking down the U.S. economy and the American public, the total coronavirus deaths in the U.S. was cut a staggering 90 percent, from a range of 1 to 2.2 million down to 100,000 to 200,000 deaths.
On April 5, the IMHE model estimated the total U.S. coronavirus deaths to be 81,766 by August 4.
Three days later, on Wednesday, the IMHE predictions were updated for a third time in a week.
The latest IHME chart projects total deaths of 60,000 by August.
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Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.