Emerald Isle to host free COVID-19 testing Tuesday

A Snow Hill-based community medical provider will offer free drive-through COVID-19 tests to anyone who wants one Tuesday at the Western Ocean Regional Access in Emerald Isle. (Brad Rich photo)

EMERALD ISLE — The town of Emerald Isle has arranged for a Greenville-based health company to provide free, drive-up COVID-19 tests Tuesday.

The tests by Green County Healthcare Inc. will be offered from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Western Ocean Regional Access off Islander Drive.

Town Manager Matt Zapp said on the town website it will be the NARES test.

“It is a simple test in which a specimen is collected just inside the nose,” he said. “It does not hurt.”

There is no registration required, and those who want the test do not have to be an Emerald Isle resident.

“Testing will be drive-thru style, but walk-up individuals are welcomed, too,” Mr. Zapp said. “Anyone, of any age can be tested.”

Testing is fast, he added, and all results, positive or negative, can be available typically within two to four days.

As of Wednesday, Emerald Isle had experienced 144 confirmed COVID-19 cases and one death.

Greene County Health Care, based in Snow Hill, is a 47-year-old federally qualified community medical provider that operates in Greene, Pit and Pamlico counties, primarily, but as in the case of the tests, can go elsewhere in eastern North Carolina to provide services.

Gena Byrd, the company’s nursing supervisor, said she owns property in Emerald Isle and knew that although there have been some testing sites in Carteret County, she was unaware of any by organizations like hers, particularly in the western region.

“Hopefully, we’ll also be able to go to Morehead City at some point, and I’d also like to go Down East,” she said.

Despite the location in Emerald Isle and the company’s usual focus on communities that are medically underserved, she said anyone of any age from anywhere can come and get the free test Tuesday. The workers conducting the testing will be masked.

Ms. Byrd said the company looks forward to helping the residents of the area get tests safely and get the results quickly as the novel coronavirus continues to spread in the community.

“We want to do anything we can to help,” she said.

Emerald Isle reported one employee tested positive for the virus in October and officials immediately closed the administration building to the public. It has remained closed since, and the police and fire departments have been closed to the public since spring.

The town recreation/community center has been open on a limited schedule for some classes and activities, but town officials announced Wednesday an immediate closure through Friday, Jan. 1.

“The state continues to report record-shattering cases of coronavirus as well as an escalating increase in cases in Carteret County,” Mr. Zapp said on the town’s website.

He added that after New Year’s, “Town officials will evaluate current conditions to determine reopening. This decision was made not only to protect the public, but to protect town employees during the holiday season.”


Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

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