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Nearly 300 tested for COVID-19, public testing continues tomorrow

More than 200 people got tested for COVID-19 today at a drive-thru event in Lee County. Piedmont Health and the North Carolina National Guard are assisting the health department--and the testing continues tomorrow.

Posted Updated

Joe Fisher
, WRAL reporter
SANFORD, N.C. — Nearly 300 people got tested for COVID-19 on the first day of a two-day event at Deep River Elementary School in Sanford.

Piedmont Health and the North Carolina National Guard are assisting the Lee County Health Department.

A steady stream of cars flowed into the parking lot on Wednesday starting at 8:30 a.m. The test itself takes two to five minutes, but it took cars 45 minutes to an hour to make their way through the process.

Some people say they came because they have symptoms. Others say they came for piece of mind. 

People explain why they've chosen to get tested

The test is open to the public and priority is given to people who are showing symptoms, who have come in close contact with someone who tested positive or people at a high risk for exposure.

"I just wanted to make sure I am negative; and so therefore, I’m not affecting any one else when I am out in public or around my family," said Terra Pearson, a home health care provider.

Pearson said the one-hour wait is worth finding out her COVID-19 status.

“[I am] a little anxious. I think that’s with any test, but I am not really that concerned," she said. "I do wear a mask. I am always sanitizing everything down, even spraying my car."

Attendees include employees from a variety of essential jobs or health concerns, including daycare employees, meat plant workers and people with compromised immune systems.

Misty Drake, chief operating officer at Piedmont Health, said people are screened before they get a nasal swab test and everyone receives a free telehealth check-up before leaving. 

“That provider will give them some final instructions. Do they need to stay home? Can they go back to work. Talking to them about ways they can limit their exposure," said Drake.

This is the second time in recent weeks that Piedmont Health has teamed up with the North Carolina National Guard. An event in late April targeted Mountaire Farms' employees and their family members.

Piedmont Health says this week's testing is drawing some employees from Pilgrim's Pride, a meat plant in Sanford with an active COVID-19 outbreak.

Lt. Col. Bradley Merritt said personnel with the North Carolina National Guard are providing extra manpower to help conduct as many tests as possible. 

"We have them in a hazardous material suits ... We're actually providing the testers that are talking to patients," said Merritt.

Brian Toomey, chief executive officer at Piedmont Health, said he hopes any new positive cases will provide a clearer picture of community spread as the state weighs its next steps in reopening.

"Lee County has led a lot of this piece," said Toomey. "Other counties should think of the same thing.”

Next steps for COVID-19 testing

The results will be returned in 24-48 hours.

The testing continues Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Anyone who is interested should call Piedmont Health at 919-542-4991 to set up an appointment.


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