Wake County to scale down COVID-19 testing and vaccine programs

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wake County said it will reduce the number of daily appointments for COVID-19 testing and vaccination.

The decision comes as the county and state have experienced a steady decrease in cases and hospitalizations since mid-January.

"The demand for testing, the demand for vaccination has dropped and partly that's because a lot of people have been vaccinated and that's great," said Dr. David Wohl, infectious diseases specialist at UNC Health.

Wohl said the hospital has "cleaned out" of COVID patients, emphasizing that "we're in a much better place right now." He said he's fine with Wake County ramping down its vaccine and testing programs as long as they can dial them back up.

"We have to be very nimble here, we don't know what the future is going to hold but we have to be prepared for each individuality," Wohl said.

Beginning Thursday, there will be 1,900 testing appointments daily instead of 8,000. Vaccine clinics will go down to 1,015 per day from 2,000.

As of Wednesday, 81% of Wake County residents 5 and older had gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.

Wohl said it's important to look to Europe because their trends usually give us an indication of what's down the road.

The United Kingdom, for example, had a 31% increase in weekly cases. Finland's jumped 84%.

"There's nothing here that precludes us from having a very similar experience in the next two to three to four weeks, maybe not," he said. "Fingers are crossed, but we have to be prepared for that."

Wohl said they need to focus on doing testing and giving vaccines at doctors' offices and clinics.

Wake County said it's going to focus on equity and outreach to underserved communities, which have been hardest hit by the virus.
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