The NC DHHS announced a new effort to deploy up to 300 free testing sites in underserved communities. This targeted testing initiative seeks to confront historical health disparities by increasing access to no-cost COVID-19 testing for African American, LatinX/Hispanic and American Indian communities across the state.
A disproportionately high percentage of North Carolina’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 have occurred among historically marginalized populations. Mounting evidence shows the members of these populations experience higher rates of COVID-19 mortality and serious complications.
As many as 300 temporary testing sites will be deployed throughout the month of July, including drive-thru and walk-up sites. The initiative will increase testing capacity in more than 100 ZIP codes, providing testing access for 2.2 million African American, LatinX/Hispanic and American Indian individuals. Two vendors have been identified to begin this work, Vidant Health and Orig3n, Inc.
The initiative emphasizes a community testing approach. The awarded vendors are required to connect individuals with medical homes and provide services with culturally and linguistically appropriate standards, working within existing trusted community partnerships; additionally, no payment from the individual will be needed for the testing. Insurance, if available, will be billed but no co-pays or cost-sharing will be asked of anyone seeking testing. Those who are uninsured will have full access to free testing at these sites.
Communities were selected based on low testing capacity and high African American, Latinx/Hispanic and/or American Indian populations. Higher concentration of elderly populations with multiple chronic conditions and higher rates of construction and seasonal farm work were also factors.