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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

NC Health Department Will Pay For Residents To Take At-Home COVID Tests

COVID-19 test
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North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services announced on Wednesday that it will now pay for residents to have at-home COVID-19 test kits mailed to them. The agency said in a statement that any adult can request a COVID-19 test kit be shipped to their home overnight and DHHS will cover the cost.

The at-home kits are manufactured by Burlington-based company LabCorp and can be used on anyone ages 2 and up. Each kit includes a nasal swab, sample container and shipping materials so residents can mail the swab back to LabCorp for testing.

According to state health officials, results are typically provided within 24 to 48 hours.

Residents can request a test kit by visiting LabCorp’s website or through a handful of local disability service partners.

“NCDHHS is committed to expanding access to testing across the state to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help North Carolinians protect their communities and families,” the agency said in a statement.

But, it added: “The best way to protect against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated.”

As of Tuesday, 41% of North Carolina’s total population had been vaccinated, or 48% of residents 12 and older. Just over half of state residents 12 and older had been vaccinated with at least one dose. Those under 12 have not yet received approval from federal health authorities to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

DHHS also announced this week that it will be launching a COVID-19 testing program for public, charter and private K-12 schools in the fall. The program will provide participating schools with rapid tests and other testing options, according to the agency. Schools can sign up to be part of the program, which will be funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, starting in early July.

“We encourage everyone, including students, to get vaccinated if they are eligible, but students under 12 don’t have that option yet,” said Ann Nichols, state school nurse consultant, in a statement released by DHHS on Tuesday. “This testing program will keep our schools safe and our students learning.”

Public school districts and charters will also have the option to receive money to hire additional school health staff to help manage the screening testing program, according to state health officials.

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Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at cdonnelly@wfae.org or on Twitter @donnellyclairee.