Wake County to phase out COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Wake County Public Health Department announced the county will start to scale down its five drive-thru testing locations.

On Monday, the department will begin to reduce the number of available appointments and the days testing is offered.

The final day of testing at the drive-thru locations at county sites will be Friday, July 29.

Wake County said there has been a steady decline in people using these sites.

"COVID-19 testing isn't going away. With the abundance of at-home testing kits and other testing locations throughout the community, there will be plenty of opportunities for people to keep themselves safe and healthy," Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair Sig Hutchinson, said.

Officials said outdoor COVID-19 testing is extremely expensive, and keeping sites staffed eight hours a day, six days a week is a challenge.

Wake County has spent $131 million since the start of testing and to continue drive-thru testing past June, will be using its own funds at a cost of $2 million a month to local taxpayers.

Patricia Reichmeider was leaving a Wake County testing site on Friday and was upset to hear that the to-go spot is closing soon.

"We have a son who's immunocompromised, so we've been here quite a bit to keep him safe. So definitely prefer the PCR over the rapid test at home," said Recihmeider, who was there to get tested ahead of a trip to Mexico.

Another Raleigh resident said the locations have helped her feel comfortable throughout the pandemic.

"I work with people that have not had one shot. And I'm encouraging them to go get tested, go get your shots," said Theresa Redmond.

The changes announced Friday will not impact anyone who has already made a testing appointment.

Appointments for testing will still be required and can be made here.

Some medical professionals are warning we'll likely see a new surge of COVID-19 cases this summer.

A WakeMed infection prevention specialist has been seeing a lot of patients with mild COVID symptoms. She is surprised Wake County is scaling back as summer travel is ramping up.

"I think that's definitely something that we're going to miss and I hate to see that go, especially right now because I think that it will discourage some people from going out and seeking those PCR tests, which are going to be more accurate at picking up who are positive for COVID," said WakeMed's Jessica Dixon.
Copyright © 2022 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.