New online tool checks need for COVID test

Published 6:09 pm Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

A new tool will allow those who may think they have COVID-19 to check their symptoms.

“Check My Symptoms” was launched last week on the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website and runs users through a series of questions that can help them determine whether they should be tested for the virus and nearby locations where they can be tested if it’s recommended.

“I would say anybody in the public that is worried or wondered if they may have COVID-19, especially symptomatic people, should (use it),” Beaufort County Public Health Director Jim Madson said.

Madson said the testing situation has improved since COVID-19 first became a realistic threat in the county: turnaround time for tests has decreased to about 48 hours, as opposed to the five days to a week some facilities were encountering two months ago; testing has increased, and the health department has increased its testing to at least 235 people per week.

“We are hitting our goal. For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been averaging about 240,” Madson said.

The department has also shifted its focus to the testing of groups more vulnerable to the virus.

“We have tested some vulnerable sites like long-term care facilities — it had nothing to do with suspecting a case; it was just to make sure,” Madson said.

Those results are pending, he said.

While the percentage of Beaufort County’s positive cases has stayed consistent — between 2% and 3% returned positive of all tests administered — Madson said residents should remain careful and take the recommended precautions. The most recent spate of positive cases stemmed from a single Memorial Day event.

“That is a reminder that COVID is out there; it’s going to be with us for a long while. We should maintain our vigilance. The strategy right now in the county, I’ve got three things: personal responsibility, protect the vulnerable populations and track down the positive cases as soon as possible,” Madson said, adding that the 3 W’s of washing hands, waiting six feet apart from one another in public and wearing masks are of primary importance. “We need to be smart and look out for each other. The biggest thing is that you practice good hygiene.”