Are you preparing to travel or to have a surgical procedure and would like to be tested for COVID-19 before you do, but you have no symptoms of the disease and, therefore, clinicians at existing testing centers in Dare County will not see you?

You finally have a resource that will not turn you away because you don’t have a fever and you aren’t coughing or smell-impaired.

People who are COVID-19-asymptomatic and have had no known exposure to the disease caused by the new coronavirus may now be tested at a new site in Nags Head, the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services announced yesterday.

The newly opened Outer Banks Testing Center, located at 4917 S. Croatan Hwy., Suite E, in Nags Head, is specifically for people who are asymptomatic and would like to be tested, regardless of the reason. The new center’s business hours are Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (252) 449-6174 to make an appointment.

DCDHHS’s announcement yesterday did not indicate whether the Outer Banks Testing Center is operated by the county or not. No one answered the telephone at the center today. A outgoing voice message informed us of the center’s hours and asked callers to leave their name, date of birth, and telephone number for a call back. We will call the center Monday to find out who is staffing it and to ask about cost.

Although COVID-19 diagnostic testing is widely available in Dare County, the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services has advised clinicians to test only those people in whom they suspect COVID-19. A healthcare provider first must clinically assess a symptomatic person before deciding to test him or her for COVID-19.

The COVID-19 symptoms that the NCDHHS advises providers to consider include:

*A fever of 100.4 degrees F. or greater;

*A cough;

*Chills or shaking with chills;

*Muscle pain;

*Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing;

*A headache; and/or

*A new loss of, or alteration in, taste or smell

The currently available testing sites in Dare County for symptomatic people, all of which have telephone numbers with a 252 exchange, are:

Beach Medical, Nags Head: 261-4187

Outer Banks Urgent Care, Kitty Hawk: 449-7474

Outer Banks Urgent Care Center & Family Medicine, Nags Head: 261-8040

Surf Pediatrics & Medicine (testing for established patients only), Kill Devil Hills: 449-5200

All of these providers ask that you call ahead and undergo a brief telephone screening process.

The Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services also reported yesterday that, after seeing a “decline” in new COVID-19 cases for four consecutive weeks, it has seen “an uptick” in new cases over the past few days.

Frankly, we don’t find this helpful—especially in light of the fact that Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaias visited during this period.

Until the DCDHHS goes 14 days without reporting any new cases, we will not consider any case-reporting trend significant.

The virus is out there. There are many reasons why infected people don’t get tested, including the obvious one that they don’t realize they’re infected.

As of noon today, the DCDHHS dashboard showed a total of 415 locally diagnosed COVID-19 cases: 224 Dare County residents and 191 nonresidents.

Among Dare County residents, there currently are 19 active positive cases, eighteen of whom are in isolation, either in Dare County or outside of the area. One person is hospitalized outside of the area.

The most recent DCDHHS data show that transmission of the virus has occurred predominantly through direct contact with a person who is known to be COVID-19-positive.

The NCDHHS reported this morning that 153,641 people have been diagnosed statewide with COVID-19, and 2,521 have died as a result of the disease. Currently, 996 people are hospitalized.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 8/22/20


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