Health leaders concerned about declining COVID testing demand

Health officials are still encouraging people to pick up free tests despite case counts going down.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Another round of rapid at-home COVID-19 tests were given out in Mecklenburg County on Saturday. 

The Mecklenburg County Health Department distributed free masks and rapid antigen tests at J.M. Alexander Middle School in Huntersville and Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte. 

The average number of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina is starting to plateau after days of record-setting case counts and hospitalizations in early January. At the peak of the omicron surge, there simply weren’t enough COVID-19 tests to go around. Lines for tests wrapped around streets and you couldn’t find one in stores.  

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The lines at Saturday’s free drive-thru test clinic, however, were less lengthy compared to a similar event three weeks ago.

“Obviously, when we had this a few weeks ago, we were still in the thick of our omicron surge,” said Dr. Raynard Washington, the director of the health department. “We have seen our case counts, and our percent positivity start to plateau, we’ve seen testing demand start to decline in the county.”

Washington said they’re still encouraging people to come and get a free test despite case counts going down.

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“We want to encourage our residents who are either currently sick or have been exposed recently to come and get first priority, but we have plenty of supply,” he said.

Washington doesn’t want people to put their guard down even as case counts decline.

“COVID is not going anywhere. It’s going to be here. It’s with us for at least the foreseeable future,” he said. “So these test kits are going to continue to be an important part of how we learn to live with COVID.”

Contact Shamarria Morrison at smorrison@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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