Due to an increase in the number of new cases reported per day in North Carolina (approximately 1000/day over the last seven days), the number of hospitalizations ( roughly 700/day) and the percentage of all tests coming back positive (8 percent), North Carolina has expanded its recommendations for who should be tested. In addition to anyone with symptoms, anyone with close contact with someone with coronavirus, frontline and essential workers at highest risk, those in high-risk settings, marginalized populations at higher risk of exposure and those at high risk of severe illness, Governor Cooper is now recommending those who have been at protests, rallies or other mass gatherings where safe distancing was not practiced. For details, visit the NC DHHS website.
If you fall into any of these categories, how can you be tested? First, call your primary care physician or your local health department to see if they offer testing. You can also visit Find My Testing Place, which will give a list of testing locations near you. Call the test site before you go as there can be variability in testing criteria, availability, cost, hours, and procedures.
In most cases, insurance will cover testing. Some places will require screening via an online survey, some will require a telehealth phone or video call with a provider.
A test is typically performed by a healthcare worker using a skinny swab long enough to reach the upper part of the throat, behind the nose. However some places, like the Minute Clinic at CVS, offer only self-administered testing. The test takes a few seconds and while it doesn’t hurt, it may be uncomfortable. Some physicians worry that the accuracy rates may not be as high for self-administered tests.
The sample is then sent to a lab for processing, which may take from 48 to 96 hours. Some providers call everyone to inform them of the results, while others only call those with a positive test.
Below are some of the chains providing testing in the Triangle Area, as well as links to more information on their particular requirements. For a complete list, use the Find My Testing Place Tool. Keep in mind that the list is changing daily.
For urgent questions 24/7, call North Carolina COVID-19 Hotline: 866-462-3821