Three counties of North America completely outside the state provided tests on COVID-19 ::

Three counties of North America completely outside the state provided tests on COVID-19 ::

State officials told WRAL News that rapid tests are just a small part of the options available for people to get tested, but some rural healthcare leaders say those tests still matter.

Story Highlights:

  • Leaders in three eastern North Carolina counties say they’ve been completely out of COVID-19 tests from the state for a number of days.

  • Nash and Wayne counties ran out of state-provided COVID-19 rapid tests on Dec. 30, local health officials said. Both counties’ upcoming shipment of COVID-19 tests from the state has also been delayed. Wilson County Health Department was also out of tests on Wednesday afternoon and was waiting on a shipment from the state Department of Health and Human Services.

As a result, while they still had test supplies, they had since expired and become unusable.

Hill said that the shortage of supplies comes as Nash County needs them most.

“I just don’t think that they have the available test kits to send to local health departments right now at least,” said Bill Hill, Nash County Health Director.

Nash County reported 1,425 people had tested positive over the past seven days, a new weekly record that was nearly three times the previous mark of 490 that came during the delta variant surge in September.

“We knew Omicron was going to be an extremely contagious strain,” Hill said. “It certainly has lived up to its reputation.”

As of Wednesday, Nash County’s waiting list to get tested was hundreds of people long, and Hill said their next shipment from the state could be delayed until next week. The county has started looking to buy tests from private companies and sending people to other government-run testing sites in Wake County, he said.

He believes COVID-19 testing has been a service his department needs to have for their community. “It is a public health leadership role,” Hill said. “I think it’s truly something that we need to be testing.”

In response to concerns from the counties over supply shortages, DHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley said the number of people getting tested in North Carolina has placed a strain on their resources, but DHHS still had rapid tests available. Kinsley also said that tests sent out from his department have made up only 10% of COVID-19 testing in the state.

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A spokesperson for DHHS told WRAL News that Nash County would be receiving 510 rapid tests from the state next week. “90% of the testing capacity is available in the private market,” Kinsley said. “Looking out at pharmacies where there’s free testing, all of these things you can find on our website to try different places.”

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