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Roundup: KCHD Changes Drive-Through Testing Plans

Knox County Health Department

KCHD: No drive-through testing today

The Knox County Health Department says high demand for its drive-through COVID-19 testing service was greater than anticipated, and a wave of people Monday and Tuesday forced the department to curtail testing for the rest of this week.

Wednesday’s drive-through testing was cancelled, and appointments will be required for tests given Thursday and Friday. Appointments can be made by calling (865) 215-5555 or (888) 288-6022.

Knox County Health Department Director Martha Buchanan has also suggested people to get tested through their regular medical care provider.

UTK’s veteran student center running remotely

The University of Tennessee Knoxville’s center for student veterans has had to move its services online, just like classes and much of the university’s administrative work. But that’s created a bit of a challenge for the center’s three staffers who are used to working with student veterans face to face.

The staff of the Veterans Resource Center, based in Hodges Library, has been working the phones and digital communication modes to get answers for students wondering how the COVID-19 disruptions may affect their GI Bill benefits, their classes, and their study habits. Part of the VRC’s core mission -- providing a physical space for student veterans to gather, relax or study -- has been sidelined since the UTK campus closed in late March.

The Veterans Resource Center formally opened in 2018. More than 500 UTK students are military veterans, according to the university. Nineteen new student veterans are expected to start their studies at UT Knoxville this summer; more than 90 will follow this autumn.

Fireflies will synchronize without an audience this year

An annual natural spectacle in Great Smoky Mountains National Park will happen this without thousands of humans to witness it.

The synchronized light show put on by fireflies in the park’s Elkmont area has drawn so many tourists in recent years (up to 1,000 per night in 2019) that the park resorted to a lottery system for visitors who wanted to get a glimpse. That many people in close quarters during the COVID-19 pandemic concerned park officials. Tuesday, the park announced it would not allow visitors in for this year’s event.

“The synchronous firefly viewing area at Elkmont simply isn’t spacious enough to safely allow hundreds of people to gather under the current health guidance,” Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash said in a statement. “While disappointing, the safety of our employees, volunteers, and visitors continues to be our number one priority.”

The park itself, straddling the Tennessee/North Carolina border, is expected to remain closed through April 30.