Wake County increases COVID-19 testing appointments by more than 50% to meet growing demand
Posted December 2, 2021 11:41 p.m. EST
Updated December 6, 2021 8:50 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — With President Joe Biden calling for increased COVID-19 testing as fear over the omicron variant grows and cases rise after the recent Thanksgiving holiday, Wake County is adding more COVID-19 testing appointments to meet the heightened demand.
To meet the community’s needs, Wake County has increased testing appointments by more than 50%.
This will add nearly 1,900 new slots per day, six days a week, to the testing calendar.
"It's incredibly important with omicron, the winter, the cold season being here and also with the holidays and people traveling that people are not hemmed up or unable to get the appointments that they need," said Wake County Commissioner Chairman Matt Calabria.
County officials aim to more easily prioritize symptomatic residents and people who've been exposed, while still taking care of those who want to ensure they are safe to travel or attend holiday gatherings.
"Anybody who has a very specific need or traveling or obligated to get tested because of work,should have basically nt wait at all," said Calabria. "Those who are performing surveillance testing or taking proactive measures obviously need to get in as well."
These additional appointments bring the total number of available slots per day to nearly 4,900.
Wake County switches to appointment-only testing
These additional testing appointments come after surge in demand began causing concern over delays.
On Wednesday of last week, Wake County Public Health switched from drive-through, non-appointments to appointment-only testing. At the time, some locations did not have appointments available until several days later.
"What's being offered by Wake County is a huge beneit and this expansion, I don't mind the appointment," said Patrenia Werts Onuoha, who is flying to Nigeria for the holidays.
Those planning international travel are required to show proof of a negative COVID test within a day of their departure. They can't afford to wait up to a week for a test slot.
"We want to make sure that people who have really clear, time-sensitive circumstances get bumped to the front of the line," said Calabria.
Onuoha said she's keeping her fingers crossed for results to come back as soon as possible.
"I stayed up until 4 o'clock [Monday] morning trying to find a place to do a COVID test," she said. "I don't want to go to the airport on Wednesday with anything, especially with things becoming more stringent."
Some pharmacies running low on at-home COVID tests
Wake County reminded residents that they are just one source for testing. People can still go to their local Walgreens or CVS or order an at-home test through the county online.
At-home COVID tests had been a solution for people who needed results quickly – but pharmacies are having trouble keeping the tests in stock.
"Sometimes we order it, and it's out of stock. It's a nationwide issue and not just a local issue," said Sentil Radhakrishnan with Raleigh Pharmacy.
Raleigh Pharmacy is one of those many other locations ready to help.
"COVID tests are readily available. A lot of people think it's not easy to get access to it, but at least now they shouldn't have any issues," said Radhakrishnan.