RALEIGH — On Tuesday the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced its selection of an additional vendor, Optum Serve, to continue surging COVID-19 testing capacity in the state. These new community testing sites build on North Carolina’s ongoing work to increase access to testing and slow viral spread in key locations, including the previously-announced surge of additional testing capacity in seven counties.
 
“Testing is a core element of North Carolina’s response to this pandemic, and that means making sure cost and access challenges never act as a barrier to a needed test. As we continue expanding free community testing options, we’re helping North Carolinians to stay informed about their health and help slow the spread of COVID-19,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D.
 
Optum Serve will join two previously selected vendors, the North Carolina Community Health Center Association and StarMed Urgent and Family Care P.A., in standing up turnkey testing sites — including clinical and administrative staff, tents, marketing materials, specimen collection supplies, registration and interpreter or translation services — and will leverage commercial-laboratory capacity to provide timely testing results. As with all NCDHHS-supported testing sites, there will be no co-pays or cost-sharing for anyone seeking testing, including North Carolinians who are uninsured. In total, the three testing vendors currently have 230 sites planned across 80 counties during September and October.
 
NCDHHS selected locations for the testing sites based on epidemiological trends and reports from local health departments. Key considerations included the acceleration and overall rate of case growth, the share of new cases among historically marginalized populations and current levels of testing access. Optum Serve will initially support testing sites located in 28 counties: Alamance, Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Burke, Chowan, Clay, Cumberland, Davie, Durham, Edgecombe, Gaston, Greene, Halifax, Hertford, Hoke, Johnston, Jones, Martin, McDowell, Montgomery, Orange, Pamilco, Robeson, Scotland, Stanly, Surry and Yadkin counties.
 
The sites will provide additional capacity to bolster North Carolina’s broader COVID-19 testing strategy, which prioritizes bringing urgently needed testing resources to higher-risk settings and historically underserved communities. Vendors coordinate testing with local health departments and community partners to provide services with culturally and linguistically appropriate standards and work within existing trusted community partnerships. 
 
NCDHHS recommends testing for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms as well as for asymptomatic individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19, especially people from historically marginalized communities. A disproportionately high percentage of North Carolina’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 have occurred among historically marginalized populations, including in the Latinx/Hispanic, Black/African American and American Indian communities, and mounting evidence shows the members of these populations experience higher rates of COVID-19 mortality and serious complications.
 
For an up-to-date list of events, visit the Community Testing Events page of the NCDHHS COVID-19 website, or search for testing sites at Find My Testing Place. For more data and information about North Carolina’s testing strategy, visit the North Carolina COVID-19 Dashboard.

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