Coronavirus Information for Our Patients and the Public
We encourage you to educate yourself on COVID-19, but only through trusted medical sources, like your primary-care physician or medical practice, or through dedicated online professional health sites like the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Vidant Health, all of whom have devoted large portions of their websites to COVID-19.
Spotlight News, February 2021
News on new at-home testing kits
The FDA has recently approved a number of new at-home COVID-19 tests that are fairly inexpensive (from $25-$50 per kit) and are considered to be very accurate (if instructions are followed carefully), unlike many of the earlier test kits on the market.
Among the new FDA-approved at-home test-kit options:
- Ellume COVID-19 Home Test. This should be available soon, sold over-the-counter/without a prescription, both online and in stores. More info: https://bit.ly/3k0trAw.
- Lucira COVID-19 All-In-One-Test Kit. This at-home test kit, available by prescription to people ages 14 and older suspected of having COVID, uses nasal swabs for self-collection of samples. The results take about 30 minutes. More information, including a video tutorial on using it: https://bit.ly/3jZkh7A.
- Pixel by LabCorp COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit. This one doesn’t require a prescription; however, the sample has to be shipped back to the LabCorp company’s N.C.-based lab for results. More info, and to order a test kit: https://bit.ly/3k5XpDh.
There are still times you will want to be tested by a healthcare provider instead of using a home kit:
- If you have COVID symptoms that are severe
- If you have medical complications like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer, chronic kidney disease or type 2 diabetes, which put you at high risk with this disease
Additional important notes:
- Anyone using any of these should remember that a negative test does not mean to stop following the infection-prevention actions we all should be taking right now. False-negative results can happen with a COVID test in the very early stages of infection.
- Federal law requires that health insurance cover at-home COVID-19 tests ordered by a licensed healthcare professional who believes the test is medically appropriate.
- Healthcare professionals are unlikely to order testing if a person is showing no symptoms of a COVID infection and hasn’t had a known exposure to the virus. If you are still looking for some assurance, possibly before traveling or visiting family members, the new over-the-counter tests are probably your immediate best option.
- Search tool for testing sites. NCDHHS has created this online search tool that lets you find COVID-19 vaccine providers by ZIP code, or by city or town. The site is regularly updated with current information, and is also available in Spanish. (If you experience any problems using the search tool, or have general vaccine questions, call 1-888-675-4567.)
- Community testing events. Statewide listing by county, with many events offering free COVID-19 testing. Contact the testing site before going, to confirm testing requirements, hours and registration.
NCDHHS has provided guidance for potential COVID-19 patients to include recommendations for patient testing:
The CDC has provided guidance on How COVID-19 Spreads.
Early into the U.S crisis, the CDC also released handouts that are very helpful in understanding the virus and its impacts:
- What You Need to Know About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- What to Do if You Are Sick with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- Printable CDC COVID-19 safety posters for classrooms, medical offices
Hotlines and Help Lines
- Disaster Distress Helpline. A 24/7 multilingual hotline for people dealing with emotional distress from human or natural disasters. Call 1-800-985-5990, or text TALK WITH US to 66746.
- Mobile Crisis Services Access to Care Line. Experienced staff trained in dealing with and preventing crises, available 24/7 at 1-877-685-2415.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. A 24/7 network of crisis centers providing free, confidential emotional support. Call 1-800-273-8255.
Meals for Kids
Parents needing food assistance for their children can text FOODNC to 877-877 to locate nearby free-meal sites.
- El servicio de mensaje texto esta disponible en Español. Solo envia el texto COMIDA al 877-877.
Parents will enter their address, and then receive a text with the location and serving times for nearby pickup and drive-thru free-meal sites set up for families with children ages 18 and younger, including preschool children, who rely on free and reduced-price meals at school.
Parents can also call 2-1-1 to speak with an operator 24/7 who will help them locate meal sites in their community. Services are provided in English, Spanish and many other languages.