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Raleigh, NC. January 11, 2022.
Faced with national competition for testing supplies and a shortage of testing personnel, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is doing everything possible to support existing test sites, open more sites across the state, and increase access to services at home. collection kits.
The NCDHHS contracted with two more testing providers to expand local testing options and expanded the footprint of the 12 existing providers to cover hundreds of test sites at no cost throughout the state. More than a million professional rapid antigen tests, rapid home antigen tests, and home collection kits are also on their way to the state. Today, NCDHHS is submitting initial proof of the increase order.
“Before case numbers began to break records, we were already working with our providers to secure more test kits and test supplies,” said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “With part speed and part tenacity, we continue to work to stay two steps ahead of a constantly evolving crisis and virus situation, increasing access to testing.”
With the increase, the NCDHHS ordered an additional 700,000 professional and home rapid test kits, bringing the total en route to the state to more than 1 million. Priority groups for test distribution in addition to schools, health departments, long-term care centers, and health centers include farmworker camps, tribal health clinics, and free and charity clinics. Various community organizations also help distribute tests and reach historically underserved populations.
In addition to testing, the NCDHHS has provided more than 250,000 swabs, antigen kits, and other testing supplies to testing partners throughout the state. With connections to NCDHHS providers, 10 counties have opened new sites or will open them in the coming weeks. Counties stretch from west to east and include Caldwell, Forsyth, Franklin, Halifax, Mecklenburg, Sampson, Transylvania, Wake, Wilson, and Guilford, where a massive testing site opened at the Greensboro Coliseum this weekend via a partnership between Mako Medical, Cone Health and Guilford County. NCDHHS is in the process of requesting federal support for personnel and supplies at the Greensboro site and possibly other testing sites.
In March 2021, North Carolina partnered with LabCorp to deliver home collection kits to North Carolinians receiving Food and Nutrition Services and / or those who are disabled and experience barriers to testing. The kits, which allow individuals to collect samples at home and return them for processing, are now available to all residents. To date, North Carolina has spent $ 1 million on this program and another $ 175.8 million on community testing sites and school tests. Another $ 11.5 million went to orders for rapid professional and home antigen tests.
Test volume across the state of North Carolina reached more than 564,000 tests last week, compared with 314,802 in the first full week of December. Staffing at test sites remains the most significant challenge. Therefore, the NCDHHS is encouraging providers to implement automatic swabbing whenever possible, as well as exploring staffing solutions for local health departments. Laboratory partners continue to maintain the ability to process tests quickly.
NCDHHS provides a small percentage of the state’s capacity for COVID-19 testing through contracts with vendors. Most of the testing is supplied through pharmacies, retailers, and private companies. Health departments and local health systems can work with NCDHHS to expand the number of test sites or hours by submitting a request online or through your NCDHHS point of contact.
Hundreds of community events, test locations, and home kit options are listed at ncdhhs.gov/GetTested . If you know you need an appointment, book one in advance. Explore additional locations if your preferred location is busy. Do not visit a hospital emergency department to get tested for COVID-19.
Vaccines and boosters continue to provide the strongest protection against serious illness, hospitalizations, and death from COVID-19. Unvaccinated people account for 80% of COVID-19 related hospitalizations and 88% of ICU admissions.
Safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines are licensed for everyone over the age of 5, and boosters are available to everyone over the age of 12. Go to MySpot.nc.gov to find a vaccination location near you.