NC Revamps COVID-19 Testing as Pandemic Continues

NC Revamps COVID-19 Testing as Pandemic Continues

North Carolina is dealing with new surges in COVID-19 cases while trying to reopen the economy in Phase 3. Because of this timeline, the state needs clear and robust testing policies to track the spread of the virus.

In late September, North Carolina’s health department released new guidance for COVID-19 testing. Here’s what you can expect from their revamped NC COVID testing policies.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should get a test.

The first guideline is pretty simple. If you have COVID-19 symptoms (such as a fever, cough, muscle aches, or shortness of breath) the state health department recommends you get a test.

Right now NC has a strong supply of COVID-19 tests; so if you are symptomatic, you should be able to access a test pretty quickly. However, if tests are in short supply in the future, health officials will prioritize testing individuals who are both symptomatic and at a high risk of COVID exposure.

Testing is critical for individuals in close contact with a positive case.

For NC to effectively contain COVID-19, we need anyone who has had close contact with a confirmed positive case to come forward to be tested.

So what does “close contact” mean, exactly? According to the CDC, you are a close contact of a COVID-19 case if you were less than six feet from them for more than 15 minutes. That means if you spent a half hour catching up with a friend over coffee and the next day they test positive for COVID-19, you should get a test, even if you wore a mask.

NC Will Also Prioritize COVID-19 Testing for High-Risk Populations

Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

NC will also prioritize testing for people who are at a higher risk. For example, people who live or work in nursing homes, homeless shelters or correctional facilities should have good testing access. NC will also prioritize COVID-19 testing for:

  • Anyone who would likely become very sick from COVID-19o (for example, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions)
  • Historically marginalized communities (especially ones with high Black and/or Latinx populations) that often have fewer testing resources
  • Healthcare workers
  • First responders
  • Front-line or essential workers who can’t easily social distance

NC says insurance should cover COVID-19 tests.

Most of the cost of getting a COVID-19 test should be covered by your insurance (private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid).

If you don’t have insurance, your provider can submit a claim for reimbursement to HRSA’s COVID-19 Uninsured Patient Program.

If you are worried about cost, call your insurance company before your test to find out what you’ll be required to pay. It’s also a good idea to keep records of when and why you got a test, in case you need to appeal any charges. The state has new COVID-19 plans, but your own plans will smooth your plans for health also.

Looking for a COVID test near you? Use the NC Find My Testing Place portal locate your nearest testing center.

To keep up with this latest COVID-19 news and the newest innovations in NC Healthcare, follow our Health section.

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