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For more than two years, residents have easily accessed COVID-19 tests at local pharmacies, hospitals, health departments and pop-up testing sites.
That could soon change.
The Biden administration announced recently it will soon have to make some “painful decisions,” USA Today reported, as it diverts $10 million away from funding COVID-19 testing to instead stockpile vaccines and treatments for the virus. Testing has been a key part of limiting COVID's spread, and access has become easier with at-home and rapid tests available, often for free.
But experts say the change could mean cutting back on at-home tests, which could make them more expensive and more difficult to access, USA Today reported.
In New Hanover County, Pandemic Operations Team Manager Jon Campbell said for now, the state and county still has adequate access to at-home and rapid tests to serve the community as it has been for months now.
“The Pandemic Operations Team continues to communicate regularly with the state regarding inventory and we have no immediate concerns surrounding supporting community needs at this time,” Campbell said in a statement.
Currently, the state Health and Human Services has “adequate” stocks of at-home tests and rapid tests that are then distributed to local health departments as needed, Campbell said.
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At-home tests are available to residents for free as requested at the Pandemic Operations Center, 1507 Greenfield St.
Rapid tests are also available at the Center 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to noon Fridays.
The Pandemic Operations Center will soon be added to a new statewide website going live this month to help residents find locations with stocks of free at-home COVID-19 tests.
The Community Access Point website will show test availability and pick-up times and will allow the state to promote locations with tests available through social media, flyers and other advertising. The website is set to launch this month.
COVID-19 rates in New Hanover County are still considered low, though there has been an uptick in cases in recent months. The county has a 21% positivity rate, according to the Department of Health and Human Services dashboard, with 886 new cases recorded over the last 14 days as of July 1.
The county also has 64% of residents fully vaccinated and 40% who have received at least one booster dose.
Campbell told the StarNews in a previous interview it’s vital residents continue to stay home if they don’t feel well and to take steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including focusing on mental health, getting good sleep and taking time to rest and recover.
Vaccines are available at the Pandemic Operations Center inside the public health building, 1507 Greenfield St., during clinics listed on the Health and Human Services website.
Reporter Sydney Hoover can be reached at 910-343-2339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Wilmington StarNews: Wilmington continues to provide COVID testing despite shifts in funding