How drive-thru COVID-19 testing works in New Hanover County


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County is making it easier for those with coronavirus symptoms to get tested with a drive-thru testing site. But, how exactly does it work?

If you believe you have the virus, the first thing you should do is call the county’s coronavirus call center.

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“You’re going to talk to a public health nurse, they’re going to ask you several questions about what your symptoms are, when your symptoms started and that’s part of the screening process,” Public Health Preparedness Coordinator Lisa Brown said.

If your symptoms sound like COVID-19, you’ll make an appointment to visit the drive-thru testing site at Cape Fear Community College’s Schwartz Center parking lot.

When you arrive, you’ll be pre-screened and given a ticket and a mask if you don’t already have one.

From that point, you’ll be directed to drive under a tent where public health nurses will give you a nasal swab.

The process is easy and straightforward; it should only take around 15 or 20 minutes.

“These folks at New Hanover County, I believe have thought of everything,” said New Hanover County Vice-Chair Patricia Kusek said.

Right now, the county has enough kits to test about 2,400 residents, which is about 1% of the population.

County leaders say this free testing site will help paint a more accurate picture of how many cases there are in the county, especially for those with no health insurance who may not get tested otherwise.

“We felt like one percent was a good goal to give us at least the availability of that many tests,” Brown said.

Testing will begin Wednesday, April 29. The New Hanover County Coronavirus Call Center number is 910-798-6800.

For those that don’t drive, there will also be walk-up tents or the health department can arrange for an at-home test.

There will also be Spanish interpreters available on the phone and in person.