01 IMG 7630Dr. Robert A. Clinton Jr. is a Fayetteville physician at Haymount Urgent Care on Owen Drive. He says he has been averaging 800 patients a day since March because he provides free rapid testing for COVID-19.

Until two months ago, his customers lined up in his parking lot. When the overflow started affecting nearby business traffic, Dr. Clinton told Up & Coming Weekly he requested police assistance, but eventually decided to lease a location to better accommodate those interested in being tested.

Since November, 30 of Dr. Clinton’s physician assistants, technicians and other employees have been working at the location of the former K&W cafeteria on Village Drive which was torn down several months ago. Hundreds of cars drive through four lanes for people to receive coronavirus testing. Mondays are the busiest, Dr. Clinton said, because testing is not done on weekends.

“I’ve been spending $30,000 a day to make test kits available which provide immediate results.” He said he has run up a debt of a million dollars, much of which he hopes will be reimbursed.

The tests are free, but many patients have insurance policies. Antigen tests are not only rapid. They are considered the most sensitive for detecting active infections, and the results are highly accurate. Health care providers collect mucus from the nose or throat using specialized swabs. Turnaround time of rapid tests is much quicker than PCR tests. Antigen testing works the same way as molecular PCR testing. But, instead of waiting days for the results, antigen rapid tests produce results in an hour or less, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Clinton says he has worked out an arrangement with a lab in Raleigh to speed up PCR testing so those results can also be available the same day.

There are some other free test locations in Cumberland County. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website has a listing of testing places. Some Walmart stores and eight CVS Pharmacies in Cumberland County are providing testing. There are two CVS testing sites in Hope Mills. Appointments are required.

The Cumberland County Department of Public Health announced last week that it is suspending its COVID-19 testing sites until further notice so that the department can scale up vaccination efforts. The department had been conducting free COVID-19 testing twice a week at Manna Church Cliffdale Road campus and Second Missionary Baptist Church.

“There are many other test locations in Cumberland County that are free and are open to the public,” said Cumberland County Public Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green. “The suspension of the testing sites will allow us to shift our staff to vaccination sites.”

The NCDHHS continues free testing sites at Manna Dream Center on Wednesdays and New Life Bible Church on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The department is working to get a vendor through NCDHHS to get three additional testing sites in the county.

Cumberland County currently has more than 20 COVID-19 testing locations. To find one near you, visit co.cumberland.nc.us/covid19. You can also visit the NCDHHS website at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/about-covid-19/testing/find-my-testing-place to find a free testing place near you.

As of Jan. 10, Cumberland County has a total of 14,671 COVID-19 cases and 140 deaths.

The county’s case positivity rate is at 15.4%. The target rate recommended by the World Health Organization is 5%.

Case Prioritization
Because of the rising number of positive tests, case investigations and contact tracing will be prioritized. Most recently reported cases, cases linked to a cluster/outbreak and cases known to be living in a congregate or healthcare setting, including hospitalizations will be prioritized first. All cases of COVID-19 must still be reported to the local health department or the NCDHHS.

The health department will deprioritize cases after 10 days from the date the specimen has been collected.

“The last lab result that comes in will be investigated first,” said Dr. Green. “The goal of prioritization is to maximize COVID-19 prevention success by focusing health department resources on investigating and tracing the close contacts of cases most at risk of large-scale transmission events.”

Case Notifications
NCDHHS issued updated case investigation and contact tracing guidance to help prioritize cases. All residents who have provided a cell phone or email address will receive an automatic text or email message to connect people to follow-up resources and supports.

People receiving a text or email will be directed to a secure website that provides additional information about how to protect themselves and their loved ones, how to get support if needed to safely isolate, and how to contact someone immediately for additional information.

Vaccination Rollout Plan
A tested, safe and effective vaccine will be available to all who want it, the County said, but initial supplies are limited. The health department received more than 3,500 doses of Pfizer and Moderna. Currently, Cumberland County is in Phase 1a of the vaccination plan. This phase vaccinates public health and health care workers fighting COVID-19 and long-term care staff and residents.

Phase 1b was expected to begin Jan. 11 and will be given in the following order:
•Group 1: Anyone 75 years and older
•Group 2: Health care workers (not vaccinated in Phase 1a) and frontline essential workers 50 years and older (estimated to begin late January)
•Group 3: Health care workers (not vaccinated in Phase 1a) and frontline essential workers (as defined above) of any age (estimated to begin in early February)
Final dates and times are still to be determined. Visit co.cumberland.nc.us/covid19/covid-19-vaccine for the most recent information.

Phase 2 will begin shortly after phase 1b in the following order:
Group 1: Anyone 65-75 years old
Group 2: Anyone aged 16 to 64 years with one or more high-risk medical conditions, as defined by CDC
Group 3: Anyone who is incarcerated or living in other congregate settings who is not already vaccinated due to age, medical condition or job function
Group 4: Essential workers who have not yet been vaccinated in Phase 1b

Staying Updated
Cumberland County urges all to stay updated on the latest information about COVID-19. You can visit the webpage at www.co.cumberland.nc.us//covid19 for a list of COVID-19-related closures and service changes.
The county is also sharing information on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

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