Pitt County Health Dept. facing backlog in free COVID testing, changing testing hours


PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WNCT) – “We do have a data backup and we are working to solve those issues,” said Dr. John Silvernail, Pitt County Health Department Director.

Pitt County health workers started free COVID-19 testing Monday. ​The first two days led to more than 400 samples, with more than two dozen turning out positive for COVID. ​​

“We have pretty much done three times the amount of sampling that we thought we would do,” said Dr. Silvernail.

Employees are straining to take and process all the tests.

“Because of the volume of testing our staff has done, our staff has been in the heat and in the sunlight. We really have some concerns about our staff suffering a heat-related illness such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion, he said.

Dr. Silvernail said he’s likely to cut the daily hours for testing but add more appointments slots. People wanting a test are asked to make an appointment first. Silvernail said the data shows holidays may lead to case spikes.

“When you look at daily cases counts there was clearly an uptick at the end of May some of that probably related to Memorial Day,” Dr. Silvernail said.

Pitt County’s cases are steadily rising, but experts say this is still the pandemic’s first wave, with more infections to come.

“This is really more like a fire and we are the fuel for this fire. We don’t have a vaccine to make us unburnable so the fire will continue to smolder and burn in our population,” said Silvernail.

The county and Koinonia Christian Center will hold free drive-up COVID testing this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Koinonia church parking lot.

Artisans and craft vendors will be temporarily removed from the Leroy James Farmers Market to make room for farmers and food vendors.

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