Since June 2020, Wake County Public Health has administered more than 1.5 million COVID-19 tests to the public. With free at-home tests, numerous community testing locations, and effective vaccine and treatment options easily available, Wake County Public Health has decided to gradually scale down its five large drive-thru testing locations.
On Monday, June 6, Wake County Public Health will begin reducing the number of available appointments and the days testing is offered. The final day of drive-thru testing at county sites will be Friday, July 29.
“Thanks to federal funding and incredible staff working through the heat of summer and bitter cold of winter, Wake County has offered fast, convenient, no-cost testing for almost two years straight,” said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair Sig Hutchinson. “COVID-19 testing isn’t going away. With the abundance of at-home testing kits and other testing locations throughout the community, there will be plenty of opportunities for people to keep themselves safe and healthy.”
Leaders also looked at funding and staffing issues when considering this scale down. Outdoor COVID-19 testing at this level is extremely expensive, and keeping sites staffed eight hours a day, six days a week is a challenge.
In total, Wake County has spent $131 million since the start of the testing program and, at times, was forced to supplement vendor staffing with county staffing. Federal COVID-19 funding is almost gone. To continue drive-thru testing past June, Wake County is using its own funds at a cost of $2 million a month to local taxpayers.
To help the public prepare for this change, Wake County is sharing its plan, so residents will know what to expect over the next two months:
- Monday, June 6: Reduce the number of weekly appointments available from 11,600 to 8,400 and end Saturday testing. Hours of operation and locations will remain the same.
- Monday, June 20: Reduce the number of weekly appointments available to 6,400. Hours of operation and locations will remain the same.
- Tuesday, July 5: Reduce the number of weekly appointments available to 2,700 and end testing at the Visions Church/Departure Drive location in Raleigh. Testing will be available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only, but the hours of operation will remain the same.
- Friday, July 29: Last day of Wake County Public Health drive-thru testing.
The changes announced today will not impact anyone who has already made a testing appointment. Appointments for testing will still be required and can be made at wakegov.com/testing.
Other COVID-19 Testing Options
While the county’s drive-thru testing is coming to an end, its commitment to keeping our community safe and informed about the resources available to them is not.
Testing is available throughout Wake County at doctors’ offices, clinics and pharmacies. Drive-thru testing is still currently available through state-run sites by Mako Medical. The Radeas Labs location in Wake Forest is also operating seven days a week. All locations and hours can be found on our COVID-19 testing page.
At-Home COVID-19 Tests
- Federal Program: Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order a third round of free at-home tests. This latest update is offering up to eight rapid antigen tests per household. Tests can be ordered at covid.gov/tests. There is no cost for the tests and no shipping fees.
- State Program: The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and LabCorp also have a program to request free at-home testing kits. These PCR tests must be mailed back to a lab in a postage-paid envelope.
- Wake County Public Health is preparing to distribute antigen at-home test kits at various county locations. Four free test kits per household will be available while supplies last. Staff will prioritize giving them to community members who are unable to get tested through other methods. Plans for distributing these kits will be shared in the coming weeks.
Two Years of Testing
Wake County Public Health began offering drive-thru testing in June 2020 – the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, drive-thru testing has become a staple in the fight against the virus.
During the omicron surge in January 2022, sites were averaging more than 10,000 tests per day on some occasions. Dedicated staff have served in snow, ice, heat waves and in between thunderstorms. The quick turnaround of results offered by our partners at Radeas Labs has allowed residents to know their status within 24 hours and be able to take the necessary steps to protect themselves and loved ones.
“We’re so thankful to our staff, volunteers and community partners who have helped make Wake County Public Health testing a reliable and fast option for our residents,” said Dr. Nicole Mushonga, Wake County Associate Physician Director and Epidemiology Program Director. “Before there was a vaccine, there was just testing, and it was a lifesaving tool for keeping people who were sick or exposed to the virus from spreading it to their loved ones and our vulnerable populations.”
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.
Also, look for important updates about COVID-19 on Wake County’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.