N.C. expands free pre-Thanksgiving COVID-19 testing events

N.C. expands free pre-Thanksgiving COVID-19 testing events
(Source: AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - More than 120 free COVID-19 testing events will be put on by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services this weekend, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

In addition to existing testing events throughout the state, grocery stores in seven counties are offering testing on November 20-22: Buncombe, Cumberland, Durham, Iredell, Johnston, Mecklenburg and Union. Select Carlie C’s IGA, Compare Foods, Food Lion, Ingles Markets and Target will have walk-up and drive-thru testing.

Testing will be conducted by C.W. Williams Community Health Center (in coordination with NC Community Health Center Association), OptumServe, and StarMed Urgent and Family Care, P.A.

For a full list of all testing event times and locations throughout the state, visit the No-Cost Community Testing Events page on the NCDHHS website. More locations are being added each day. Additional testing sites can be found at Find My Testing Place.

“We care about our customers and about the communities we serve,” said Emma Inman, Director of External Communications for Food Lion. “Along with NCDHHS, we want to encourage North Carolinians to get tested for COVID-19. It’s a simple thing to do before we see our friends, family, and loved ones this Thanksgiving to care for them and help slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Anyone can get tested for COVID-19 at the events. People without insurance are eligible for testing and identification documents are not required. Children and adults may be tested, but a parent or legal guardian must be present with children and teens 17 or younger.

People who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been around a person with COVID-19 should not shop in person until their isolation or quarantine period has ended. This includes shopping at partner retailers during testing events.

North Carolina is experiencing record high numbers of COVID-19 cases. NCDHHS urges caution when traveling or gathering for Thanksgiving and other holiday celebrations, especially for gatherings that include people who are at a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19, such as anyone over the age of 65.

People who choose to travel or gather for Thanksgiving should consider having a COVID-19 test three to four days ahead of time, according to state health officials.

A test can help someone know if they have COVID-19 even if they do not have symptoms yet; however, tests can miss some infections and are not a fail-safe measure. If your test is positive, you should stay home, not attend any gatherings, and self isolate or quarantine. If your test is negative, you still need to practice the 3Ws – wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart from people who do not live in your household, and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.

NCDHHS also recommends that everyone quarantine for 14 days before gathering with anyone outside their household to limit advance risk of being exposed to COVID-19. Quarantining is particularly important from the time you test until you travel or gather with people outside your household.

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