Keep testing lines down, don’t get tested too soon

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Many Eastern North Carolina testing sites are experiencing long lines, with hundreds of people returning from holiday travel and many feeling ill. Local health officials advise that if you’ve just returned from a vacation and you feel fine, it might be too soon to get tested.

Officials say nearly 900 people drove through the Vidant Health testing site in Greenville on Monday with some waiting in line for hours. One in every four of those people tested received a positive result. Experts are now reminding us all to avoid hospitals if we can, even if we have a positive COVID test or some other medical non-emergency.

“The emergency rooms are very busy and obviously for people with emergencies,” said Dave Harlow, Vidant Allied Health Vice President. “You will just get more timely care if you have something simple if you go to the urgent care or primary care doctor.”

The advice for those who have tested positive but show little or no symptoms is the same as it has been throughout the pandemic: Stay home and recover.

If you are just returning from holiday travel and haven’t been tested, the recommendation is three to five days. Lenoir County Health Director Dr. Pamela Brown said that could be three to five days after your plane trip home or three to five days after your exposure to somebody positive. Dr. Brown warns that if you test too early, you could get a false negative.

“Sometimes if you test immediately after exposure, you might not have enough viral load to show up on a test.”

As COVID cases continue to rise just days before we all make our final New Year’s Eve plan decisions, Dr. Brown also encourages us all to stay safe.

“If you can, make your gatherings smaller or have good ventilation wherever you are. Luckily, we had a beautiful Christmas and people could be outside. That was a blessing. Masks are still a great option for keeping yourself and others safe. There are a lot of tools out there for you to keep you and others safe, and I know a lot of people are aware of them at this time.”

Many of our local testing sites are Monday-Friday, with appointments available but not required. Vidant Health officials said as of Monday, there’s a 26 percent positivity rate at the testing site on Stantonsburg Road, and that’s the highest it’s been in months.

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