Need a COVID test? Here are a few locations to get one before Christmas

With new COVID cases increasing across Stanly County and the state due in part to the emergence of the highly transmissible omicron variant, which now accounts for more than 70 percent of all cases nationwide — though delta is still the dominant variant in North Carolina, people planning to travel this week should consider getting tested beforehand.

“If you plan to gather with family and friends, find a way to get tested before you do,” Gov. Roy Cooper said during a news conference Monday. He also encouraged people to get vaccinated and if they’re eligible, to get the booster shot.

“If you aren’t yet vaccinated against COVID, please make the right decision and get your first shot,” Cooper added. “I know people might want to wait until after the holidays, but don’t.”

More than 15,000 new COVID cases have been reported in North Carolina since Friday while hospitalizations have also increased. So far this week, close to 80 cases have been reported in Stanly County, according to the health department, while 15 people are hospitalized. Stanly reported 220 new cases last week, up 38 percent from two weeks ago.

The uptick in cases makes the need for testing all the more important, officials said, as people plan to gather indoors with loved ones this weekend.

Rapid-result and PCR testing have been available to the public during the pandemic. Testing remains free at pharmacies and other sites, but with demand high of late, there could be fewer appointments available.

Stanly residents can go to OptumServe sites at the Stanly County Commons parking lot and Stanly Community College Crutchfield Center in Locust for free testing Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (though it will be closed this Friday.) For more information, people can call 877-562-4850.

PCR tests, which can take a few days for people to receive results but are considered more accurate, are currently available at only one Walgreens location in Stanly: in Albemarle, at 840 N.C. Highway 24-27 Bypass E. There are many other locations close by, including in Salisbury, Concord and Kannapolis, several of which offer both PCR and rapid-tests.

There are no tests of either kind available at any CVS locations in Stanly County. But like with Walgreens, there are several CVS locations in neighboring areas offering the tests, though they can fluctuate depending on the appointment date. For this week, there are still available slots for PCR tests at CVS locations in Concord, Denton, Marshville, Monroe, Salisbury, Rockwell and Wadesboro.

An appointment for a rapid-result test, where people can receive results in a matter of hours, is harder to access since a majority of CVS locations in the region don’t have many slots available before Christmas Day. There are still appointments available this week at locations in Harrisburg, Concord and Monroe.

At-home rapid tests are also available on Amazon, though they would likely arrive after Christmas. There are variety of brands including iHealth, BD Veritor and On/Go.