SCHEDULE ADJUSTMENT: On Wednesday, Jan. 26, Wake County Public Health will reduce the hours of appointments at its five testing locations from 12 hours to 8 hours a day (Mon.–Fri. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays).
This shift will still allow for more than 8,000 daily testing appointments Monday through Saturday, for a total of nearly 50,000 tests available weekly from Public Health sites.
This shift is made possible due to the increasing testing capacity in the community and new at-home testing options (listed below). The same week this change goes into effect, two new NCDHHS community testing sites will open, bringing the total number of large drive-thru testing sites in Wake County to 12. The new locations are located at:
- Highland Baptist Church in Garner (opens Jan. 24)
Monday–Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Apex Community Park in Apex (opens Jan. 26)
Monday–Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“During this unprecedented surge in Omicron cases, Wake County Public Health doubled its testing capacity and relied on employees from across our organization to staff our testing sites, so we could continue our incredible level of service,” said Dr. José Cabañas, Wake County’s Chief Medical Officer. “We appreciate the federal, state, municipal and community partners who have stepped up to help meet local testing demands.”
At-Home COVID-19 Testing
The recently expanded availability of at-home COVID-19 testing is increasing access for residents. The options include:
- At-Home Rapid Antigen Tests: Every home in the U.S. is now eligible to order four at-home COVID-19 antigen tests. There is no charge for the tests or shipping. Orders will usually ship in 7–12 days via the U.S. Postal Service. These at-home rapid tests give results within 30 minutes with no lab drop-off required. Order via https://special.usps.com/testkits.
- At-Home PCR Tests: North Carolina has partnered with Labcorp to provide no-cost at-home COVID-19 PCR tests. The kits are overnighted to your home. Then you mail your sample to the lab in a postage-paid envelope, and the results are emailed back to you within 1-2 days of the sample reaching the lab. Supplies are limited but can be ordered at https://www.ondemand.labcorp.com/nc.
- Over-the-Counter Tests: Most people with a health insurance plan can go online or to a pharmacy or store to purchase an at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at no cost, either through reimbursement or free of charge through their insurance. Your health insurance company will pay you back for 8 at-home tests per month for each person covered by your plan. To learn more about insurance reimbursement for at-home tests, go to https://www.cms.gov/how-to-get-your-at-home-OTC-COVID-19-test-for-free.
What’s the difference between a rapid antigen and PCR test?
Both tests are reliable, and both work to detect the fast-spreading Omicron variant. PCR tests are much more sensitive at detecting it. However, PCR tests must also be sent to a lab, which means the results take longer to receive.
The rapid antigen tests are just that – they’re fast, inexpensive and are highly reliable for telling you right now if you’re contagious. Rapid tests help the test taker know within 15-30 minutes if they need to isolate to prevent spreading the virus.
The first two days after an exposure or before symptoms, a rapid test may not detect low levels of the virus. But, if you have high viral levels and are likely to be spreading COVID-19, rapid tests are a fantastic tool to help you determine if you’re positive, so you can take the proper precautions.
For a list of all no-cost testing sites operating in Wake County, visit Wakegov.com/testing. Patience is appreciated at all sites throughout Wake County, as long lines are expected to continue for the coming weeks.
Visit Wake County’s multilingual COVID-19 webpage for the latest information on COVID-19. It features a set of frequently asked questions to educate residents, COVID-19 vaccine information, COVID-19 testing locations and the most current data on how the virus is impacting our county.