Wake County to phase out free COVID testing as federal funding runs out

3 June 2022

— Wake County public health officials announced Friday that the county would “begin a gradual scale down of COVID-19 testing” due to a lack of funding.

The Wake County Department of Public Health pointed to other options to get tested, including at-home COVID-19 tests. However, the county tests are free while some other options are not.

Starting on Monday, the county health department will begin reducing the number of available appointments and days that COVID-19 testing is offered.

The last day that testing will be offered is Friday, July 29.

Public health officials said in a release that outdoor COVID-19 testing is “extremely expensive” and “keeping sites staffed eight hours a day, six days a week is a challenge.”

The county has spent $131 million in federal funding on COVID-19 testing since the start of the program two years ago, according to a release from the county. Because the county is almost out of federal funding, Wake will need to use $2 million a month from its own reserves to supply tests.

Other COVID-19 testing options may not be as accessible

In Friday’s release, county public health officials pointed to free at-home COVID-19 tests provided to North Carolina residents from LabCorp. But there’s a catch — these are only free to those who have insurance plans that cover it, according to LabCorp’s website.

If someone does not have insurance, or does not meet the criteria for a COVID-19 test as outlined by their insurance, that person has to pay $119 for the at-home test. Many health insurance plans will reimburse the cost of an at-home COVID-19 test, but that’s still a cost that people will have to pay up front.

According to both CVS’s and Walgreens’ websites, most patients who are insured can get a COVID-19 test for free. If patients are not insured, they can use their social security number to have the federal government pay for their test. Patients without a social security number will have to pay the cost upfront.

Homes across the U.S. are eligible for a third round of free, at-home COVID-19 tests provided to them by the federal government. Americans can order four home tests per residential address, but many say they have issues ordering them to PO boxes, mobile home parks or rural addresses. Others said the U.S. Postal Service didn’t recognize their address or disqualified them because they run small businesses from their homes.

Wake County is also planning on distributing free, at-home COVID-19 testing at county locations. No other details on how these tests would be distributed were released.

This weeks’s data shows COVID-19 cases are slowing

After eight weeks of rising COVID-19 cases, new coronavirus cases dropped this week by 7%, according to data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Wastewater data also shows that coronavirus cases are dropping. Coronavirus particles decreased in North Carolina’s wastewater by nearly 5% this week.

All metrics are looking up, except for coronavirus-related hospitalizations. The number of people admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 has risen by 14% this week when compared to last week.

This post was originally published on this site

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