NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County’s emergency preparedness team set up an operation similar to their new coronavirus test sites about six months ago to give out flu shots and practice for an emergency situation. In a way, they’ve prepared for this, yet they never thought they’d use one of these setups to test for a potentially deadly virus.
Leaders call this drive thru testing facility “the most extensive and aggressive testing effort in the state."
Once it opens on Wednesday, they can use it as long as it is necessary.
“We wanted to not just grab a snapshot in time with one particular test a day or several days, but have the ability for testing to go on for several weeks," said Lisa Brown Public Health Preparedness Coordinator.
People arriving to the site will already be screened over the phone by nurses at the county’s coronavirus help line. Once they drive up to the layout, healthcare workers will start the process with paperwork and they will also provide masks. From then, you’ll pull through the site that allows for both walk-ups and drive-thru visits.
“You can put your vehicle in park, the public health nurses will administer a test, they will give you post-test instructions and then you’ll exit right here on Brunswick Street,” said Steven Still, Emergency Management Director.
All of this is in an effort to get a better feel for the actual numbers of COVID-19 cases in the county and make sure even the milder cases are dealt with and screened properly.
“When we say what our case count is daily, we know those are only lab confirmed cases and likely missing some cases," said Brown. "We think offering this testing and making sure it’s available to everyone, especially if you don’t have access to insurance or you might not have access to a physician that can order a test for you, so that its widely available will really help us understand if we have more cases out there than we thought we did.”
Close to 100 people are already on the list to get screened and health officials expect that number to grow each day. The testing site is a CFCC parking lot on Hanover Street. Anyone with symptoms must call the county hotline first, and get a referral and appointment time to show up.