Atrium Health and Novant Health opened mobile COVID-19 testing sites this week on Charlotte's east and west sides, to expand testing in "hot spots" where minority communities are disproportionately affected by the virus.
On Tuesday, Atrium's bus-sized mobile health van was in a parking lot off Eastway Drive in east Charlotte, where people were driving up every few minutes. One woman was coughing as she navigated a row of orange cones.
Atrium's Jennifer Gardner said everyone gets screened first.
"So they will be asked if they have had a fever, if they have had a cough, if they're short of breath or if there are any other symptoms of COVID-19." she said. "If they test positive for any of those questions, then they move to the testing area."
Once tested, they'll get results back in as little as 24 hours. And if they're positive, they'll be asked what else they need to stay safe at home -- whether it's food or other services.
By testing in neighborhoods, Atrium and Novant hope to reach more African Americans, who account for half the coronavirus cases and deaths in Mecklenburg County -- even though they're one-third of the population.
In fact, the actual number of cases in the community may be higher, said Kinneil Coltman, an Atrium senior vice president who oversees the mobile testing program.
"Our own data is showing that African Americans have been under-tested through our more traditional test sites," Coltman said. "So that's part of the early decision making for this new novel approach."
Atrium will take its mobile testing unit next to the First Baptist Church-West parking lot on Oaklawn Avenue on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Novant's mobile units are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays next to the Mecklenburg County Public Health office, 2845 Beatties Ford Road, and at 5501 Executive Center Drive, at the corner of Albemarle Road.
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