COVID-19 testing at lowest point in a year, at-home testing may boost numbers

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines, the rush to tested turned into the rush to vaccinate.

“It’s not just vaccination. Testing still is a part of this, understanding what we’re dealing with,” said Dr. David Wohl, a professor of infectious diseases at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Testing peaked in January with an average of almost 70,000 tests a day. They’ve now dropped to an average of about 19,000 a day.

In addition, a quarter of North Carolina’s counties don’t have enough testing happening to get an accurate count of percent positive for their area.

“There’s less demand for testing because people aren’t getting sick. Another thing is getting tested has become a little bit harder. There are fewer places that are testing people,” Wohl said.

Wohl says we need to turn these numbers back around.

“Because we can get treatment to you to prevent you from getting sicker, and because it allows us to see how much the Delta variant and other types of variants are breaking,” Wohl said.

The state’s expansion of free at-home testing may help. Tests are shipped overnight once ordered. They can be used on anyone ages 2 and up, but need to be ordered by an adult. People will swab their own nose and send back the sample with the included prepaid shipping materials.

“Can you get a test? Can you get a result quickly so you can take action? I think the home tests can helpful if it can be done rapidly,” Wohl said.

Samples are sent back using FedEx express shipping which can take up to three days to arrive at the lab. The state said results can be expected within 48 hours of arrival through the LabCorp website.

Click here to get your at-home test.

Click here for more information from the state on how the program works.

Wohl said vaccinated people should also get tested because of potential breakthrough cases.

“Especially, for people who are older, who have immunocompromising conditions that may lead them to not responding as well,” he said.

Click here to find a testing location near you.

Vaccinated or not, everyone needs to remain vigilant of the continued risks.

“This is not over. There are still people who get really, really sick. There are still people who are dying unfortunately of COVID-19,” said Wohl.

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