Health Team

Sometimes it's harder than others to line up a coronavirus test before Thanksgiving

Posted November 17, 2020 5:52 p.m. EST
Updated November 17, 2020 7:03 p.m. EST

— State health officials urge anyone planning to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday to get tested for coronavirus before leaving. But finding a free, convenient testing site isn't always a simple task.

"I started looking into it, and it proved to be a lot trickier than I expected," WRAL News producer Holly Iverson said Tuesday.

Iverson said she tried CVS but was told that, with no symptoms and no known exposure, she did not qualify for a test. Next, she turned to an urgent care clinic, which said that she would be charged for the visit and that insurance might not cover the cost of the test. Her primary care doctor doesn't offer a test, so she is still searching for an option close to her Apex home.

"I know that I’m kind of running out of time here if, ideally, I want to get tested on Saturday," she said. "I think that’s the tricky part – getting the correct window here."

Others have had better luck.

Samantha Muse did a drive-thru test at a community testing site set up Tuesday at the McDougald Terrace public housing complex in Durham after hearing about it from a friend.

"I’m around my grandchildren, and they go to school, they go to day care, they come home, and I just want to make sure that I don’t spread the COVID to my grandchildren," Muse said. "Me and my children will be gathering around for Thanksgiving, and I just want to make sure we’re COVID free."

Testing slots at pharmacies sometimes fill up a few days in advance. While CVS won't test anyone without symptoms, Walgreens will.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said some testing sites now have an added option in their questionnaires.

"You can check off the box that says your local health official says you should get a test ahead of Thanksgiving," Cohen said.

Also, not all tests are free.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina said it is waiving co-pays and deductibles for coronavirus tests "until the public health emergency is over" for many of its health plans.

Cigna said there is no out-of-pocket cost for testing for subscribers through Jan. 21.

"I think my biggest concern here is people will say, 'This is too much of a hassle for me to figure out,' and decide not to get tested before they meet with their loved ones," Iverson said.

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