By Nyamekye Daniel
(The Center Square) – North Carolina plans to provide nearly 75,000 rapid COVID-19 tests to colleges and universities across the state ahead of Thanksgiving.
Gov. Roy Cooper said the tests would be used to help limit the spread of the coronavirus as students prepare to head home to indulge in the family tradition that calls for gathering.
“Getting COVID-19 tests to college campuses is one way we can prevent more viral spread across the state as students go home,” Cooper said. “However, wearing a mask and maintaining social distance continue to be our strongest weapons against this virus as we approach the winter holidays.”
Cooper also signed an executive order Nov. 10 that lowered the state’s indoor gathering limits from 25 to 10 people.
Health departments in Guilford, Harnett, New Hanover, Mecklenburg and Pitt counties also have increased testing efforts near college and university campuses. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services plans to coordinate testing events with the local departments near the end of the semester.
NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said COVID-19 testing must be done in combination with other preventative measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
“We encourage everyone to plan ahead and get a COVID-19 test before they leave campus or gather with friends and family over the holidays,” Cohen said. “But even if a test result is negative, it’s not a guarantee.”
The NCDHHS did not respond to questions about the cost of the initiative.
According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the COVID-19 rapid antigen tests cost around $5 each.
The NCDHHS recommends a COVID-19 test be taken three to four days in advance of a holiday gathering. As of the after of Nov. 13, the daily percentage of positive cases in North Carolina was 8%. The NCDHHS reported 1,779 new COVID-19 cases Nov. 13. Only 16% of the state’s overall count of 305,223 cases are among the typical college-aged person – between 18 and 24 years old.