For weeks, we reported on how hard it was to get tested for COVID-19 due to supply shortages. Now, tests and antibody tests are a lot more accessible.
The full COVID-19 viral test, which involves a nasal swab, is for people who feel like they may have the virus now. That’s still the focus of local and state officials. The antibody test, meanwhile, is a blood test that will tell you if you’ve been previously exposed to the virus, and whether your body has developed antibodies to fight it. Those are becoming more available in Charlotte now, too.
Why now? As part of Governor Roy Cooper’s three-phase plan to reopen North Carolina, testing capacity needed to increase. This change makes the COVID-19 tests more accessible to anyone with symptoms, not just those in high-risk categories.
Symptoms: Cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fever, sore throat, and loss of taste/smell are all symptoms of coronavirus. If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor or go to one of the screening sites listed below.
How it works: Most of Charlotte’s testing sites are drive-thru style so you’ll stay in your car for the entire process. The test itself is free, but there may be costs involved with other services/tests. The test involves a swab in each nostril, and results come back within a few days.
Where: There are testing sites in different neighborhoods across the county.
Antibody tests: These tests determine whether a person has been exposed to coronavirus and has the antibodies to fight the virus. Mecklenburg County public health director Gibbie Harris said the county isn’t focused on antibody testing. However, some health providers in Charlotte are offering these types of tests.
- Novant Health is offering antibody tests at all of its urgent care locations. Those who want the test can make an appointment online.
- StarMed is offering free antibody tests for first responders and front line workers, but anyone can make an appointment to get tested.
- OneBlood is still taking blood donations during the pandemic. This week, the donation center announced all donations will be tested for Covid antibodies. All donators must first make an appointment.
- Atrium Health is now offering antibody testing. Those who want the test can make an appointment online.
- BetterMed is offering antibody testing at both of its Mecklenburg County locations.
- ARCpoint Labs is offering antibody testing at its locations in the Carolinas including Monroe and Rock Hill.
How it works: The testing process is fairly easy, just a simple blood draw. Results take about two to four days.
It’s important to note people with coronavirus antibodies aren’t necessarily immune to the virus. Nor does a negative result rule out coronavirus infection. But getting the test can help researchers learn more about the disease and develop treatment for critically ill coronavirus patients.