Two Buncombe County drive-thru sites for coronavirus testing began operations on Tuesday, March 17. Photo courtesy of Buncombe County
Two Buncombe County drive-thru sites for coronavirus testing began operations on Tuesday, March 17. Photo courtesy of Buncombe County

Editor’s note: Several days after this article published, some of the counties experimenting with drive-thru testing, including Buncombe and Henderson, discontinued those sites. Check with your county health department for information on what testing is available currently in your area.

A handful of hospitals, clinics and local health agencies in North Carolina have begun offering drive-thru testing for COVID-19, with more expected soon.

Though small in scale for now, state health officials say they hope to grow the effort to widely test for the virus that has been deadly around the world.

COVID-19 NC news

While qualifications to get tested vary, none so far have said they will charge money to get tested. Some want people to be screened either by their doctor or the local health department first.

And others say as long as you present with the common symptoms of COVID-19 – fever, shortness of breath and coughing – then you can get tested.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said Tuesday afternoon that around 1,100 samples have been tested across the state, with still more in various stages of testing at labs.

“We are working with the health care community across the state to expand sample collection sites for patients who might have COVID-19,” Cohen said. “Ramping up testing is important for where we are right now.”

As of Tuesday morning, 40 North Carolina residents in 16 counties have tested positive for the new coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, DHHS reported.

In Buncombe County, drive-thru testing started Tuesday at two locations. Starting Wednesday they will operate 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Testing is available for anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 or someone who is with a person who has tested positive.

“We will be operating this drive-thru clinic as long as tests are available and ask that community members be patient throughout the screening and testing process,” a press release from the county stated.

Cone Health in Greensboro planned to start testing people on Tuesday as long as they have an order from a physician. Usually, people are tested for COVID-19 if they present symptoms and test negative for various flu strains.

Pardee UNC Health and the Henderson County Department of Public Health are opening a drive-thru COVID-19 site at Blue Ridge Community College. Patients concerned about symptoms, residing in or near Henderson County should call 828-694-8048 before showing up at the screening site.

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