Officials urge COVID testing as Omicron spreads in ENC


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – While the Omicron variant is spreading fast across the country, health leaders say it is here in Eastern North Carolina too.

“Omicron will eventually become the primary variant in Eastern North Carolina,” said Dr. Dave Harlow, the V.P. of Allied Health at the Vidant Health System. “It’s just that simple. It’s not a matter of if that is going to happen, it’s just a matter of how quickly we will get there.”

Harlow confirmed the number of Omicron cases found by ECU’s Brody School of Medicine and the Vidant Health sequencing labs increased from three to eight in less than a week.

“Omicron is different,” he said. “We thought delta was this exceedingly fast transmissible virus, and as it turns out Omicron is better than that by a substantive amount.”

Because the Omicron is spreading fast in North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper is urging people to get tested before gathering this holiday season.

“If you plan to gather with family and friends, find a way to get tested before you do,” Cooper said in a COVID-19 task force meeting on Monday.

Harlow said this is good advice.

“If you’re going to be around people who are highly susceptible, elderly or young folks, particularly young kids who don’t have the option to get a vaccine yet, it’s not a bad idea at all to be 100-percent sure you don’t have COVID even if you’re asymptomatic,” Harlow said.

There are ample resources in ENC to get test results back in time before the upcoming holidays. See some of those testing sites below:

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