NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – The New Hanover County Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is hosting a free COVID testing event at the HHS Annex at 1507 Greenfield St., Thursday, December 30 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
The focus of the drive-thru event is to limit viral spread of COVID-19 at New Year’s Eve gatherings by providing testing resources for individuals who are uninsured or undersinsured.
“Following conversations with area medical providers, it is clear that there is a need to have more community testing to understand and monitor the spread of COVID in New Hanover County,” said Health and Human Services Director Donna Fayko. “We were able to acquire additional testing supplies from the state that will allow us to offer expanded testing to the community. This drive-thru event will allow residents in need to get tested and know if they have COVID so they can make proper decisions about whether to isolate over the coming days.”
Each person seeking a test is required to provide basic details on a written form but no identification or insurance information is needed. Children needing to be tested can do so with a consent form signed by a parent or guardian.
Results will be issued after the 15-minute processing time.
As there is a limited number of tests at the event, COVID-19 tests will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
On Wednesday, the percent positivity rate in New Hanover County is 11.6%, a rise of almost 9% since mid-November.
“We are currently seeing an increase in cases and positivity rates, and we aren’t even two weeks past Christmas – which is when we will likely see even more cases. Because of this, we are strongly recommending everyone, no matter your vaccination status, wear a mask when you are around people you do not live with, social distance when possible, wash hands frequently and get vaccinated or your booster dose as soon as possible,” Fayko said. “All of these things done together can help keep our COVID cases down, keep people out of the hospital and keep our community safe – but we all must take these steps together to accomplish that.”
County health officials added that they wanted to host a drive-thru testing event to help lower the number of people going for tests at hospitals and other local providers.
“We know that the virus spread can occur if you’re coming into a waiting room and having to wait to be seen,” said Fayko. “So we really thought that by offering this alternative testing opportunity we could assist in keeping that viral transmission down.”
Demand for tests is so high that even local and state health departments are having trouble finding a steady supply of tests. The county plans to make 630 tests available at the clinic on Thursday.
“In so far as we have the capacity, the supply constraints affect us as well,” said David Howard, New Hanover County health director. “So to the extent we have available testing options, we’ll extend that to the community in the best way we think is possible.”
As we learn more about the rapidly-spreading Omicron variant, Howard says testing is vital to determine how much longer Omicron may spread before numbers start to decline.
“A lot of testing is happening, but a lot of people who are exposed are not necessarily getting tested,” Howard said. “So it’s hard to say for sure how long it lasts. It may end as quick as it started, we’re not sure.”
The COVID vaccination clinics at Independence Mall will be closed December 31 and will reopen January 3 for regular clinic hours.
For anyone who has been exposed to someone with COVID or is showing symptoms related to COVID, testing resources, including a list of testing sites, can be found at Health.NHCgov.com. Additionally, information on self-testing can be found on the CDC’s website here.
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