Screening begins Monday for expanded COVID-19 testing in New Hanover County

Posted April 26, 2020 at 2:45 pm     Category: Emergency ManagementEmergency NewsNews ReleasePublic Health

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County Public Health will expand COVID-19 testing in the county beginning this week, providing an opportunity for symptomatic residents to be pre-screened by phone and then tested for COVID-19 at a drive-through location at no cost.

Beginning Monday, April 27, residents who are currently experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can call the Coronavirus Call Center to be screened by a Public Health nurse. Those who meet the criteria for testing will then be referred to the drive-through testing site at a designated day and time.

“This is the most extensive and aggressive testing effort by any county in North Carolina that we are aware of; and our team has been working diligently to bring this valuable resource to our residents – so we can increase our knowledge of the impact of COVID-19 in our community as well as extend care and support to those who are ill,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “This testing is for anyone who is experiencing symptoms, but it’s especially important for those who don’t have insurance, or who lack access to health care, because they can be tested at no cost with the support from our Public Health staff that they need.”

New Hanover County has acquired resources through a contract with a private lab to test up to 2,400 residents for COVID-19 over the next four weeks. This is in addition to other testing being done by local providers.

Testing Eligibility

The county’s screening process will allow for testing to be conducted on anyone with mild symptoms, which is less restrictive than the current testing protocol in place by the state and CDC, and will provide insight into mild cases of COVID-19 in our community. Residents eligible for this expanded testing are those who:

  • Are currently experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
  • Have limited access to a healthcare provider who will order a COVID-19 test, financial barriers to obtain a test, or have no direct healthcare access.
  • Have been pre-screened by the Coronavirus Call Center and provided with an appointment for testing.
Screening Process

Residents can call the Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800, beginning at 8 a.m. on Monday, April 27, to speak with a public health nurse. Callers will be screened and asked questions like their name, phone number, address, types of symptoms and the date symptoms started.

If a public nurse determines a person meets the criteria for testing, the person will be scheduled for a time to visit the county’s open-air, drive-through testing site in downtown Wilmington, located next to the Schwartz Center. The test site will open to those with appointments later this week.

Interpreters will be available in the call center and at the testing site, to ensure everyone can access this resource. Pre-screening is required to be tested, and only those currently symptomatic will be referred.

“The number of lab-confirmed cases is likely not the full picture of COVID-19 in our community, so expanding testing gives us greater visibility and allows us to better monitor the disease in our community, identify cases that we can then perform contact tracing for, and contain further spread of the virus, especially as our community looks toward lifting mitigation measures,” said Public Health Preparedness Coordinator Lisa Brown. “It will also help our residents who are sick to know whether or not they have COVID-19, so they can take care of themselves with more knowledge and therefore have more power over the illness.”

This expansion in testing is expected to increase the number of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Hanover County, which is currently 79 total cases.

The county’s testing will ensure that at least 1% of New Hanover County residents are tested locally, in addition to testing that is being conducted by local healthcare providers. To date, about 1% of North Carolina residents have been tested for COVID-19.

More information about the process and criteria for New Hanover County’s expanded testing can be found at Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus. Testing data will also be shared on this site beginning Thursday, April 30.

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As of April 26, there have been 79 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County, and of those, 49 people have recovered. For more information about COVID-19 in New Hanover County, visit Health.NHCgov.com, call our Public Health Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800, and follow the county’s trusted social media pages: TwitterFacebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor.

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Communications and Outreach: 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 195 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-7461 • Fax 910-798-7277