Community COVID-19 Testing Information
COVID-19 testing is available for people who think that they may have COVID-19. The Buncombe Ready COVID-19 Self Checker can help you assess whether or not you need to be tested for COVID-19. Community testing sites in Buncombe County will be paused until these adjustments are made. The County anticipates that the updated model will be back on line early August. If your primary care provider does not offer COVID-19 testing, they can refer you to an option that works for you. Please go online or call ahead to schedule a visit and to confirm the location of the testing site.
Testing guidance for COVID-19 has expanded to encourage the following individuals to get tested for COVID-19 at one of the locations listed below or at a community testing site.
Testing is suggested for the following:
- Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19
- Anyone (with or without symptoms) who is a close contact of a known positive case
- Anyone (with or without symptoms) in the following groups who believes they may have been exposed to COVID-19:
- Persons who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings (e.g., long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility, migrant farmworker camp)
- Persons who are at high risk of severe illness (e.g., people over 65 years of age, people of any age with underlying health conditions)
- Historically marginalized populations
- Healthcare workers or first responders (e.g. EMS, law enforcement, fire department, military)
- Front-line and essential workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, child care workers, construction workers, food processing plant workers, etc.) in settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain
- People who attended mass gatherings (protests, marches, rallies, funerals, parties, cookouts, etc.), particularly if they were in crowds or other situations where they couldn’t practice effective social distancing
Paying for COVID-19 Testing:
If you have private insurance, payment should be covered by your insurance company. If you are uninsured, please ask about the CARES Act which may cover the cost of the medical provider assessment and testing for COVID-19. Some providers offer charity care assistance or sliding scale options for payment. Check with your provider about these details.
Where to get tested for COVID-19:
Contact your healthcare provider to see if testing is available at their clinic. If not, click here to find a clinic that offers testing.
Symptoms of COVID-19
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. If you are symptomatic or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should contact your healthcare provider or an urgent care OR use the Buncombe County COVID-19 Self Checker to assess your symptoms and get connected to testing.
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Children have similar symptoms to adults and generally have mild illness.
This list does not include all symptoms. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
When to Seek Medical Attention
If you have any of these emergency warning signs* for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.
Community-Based Testing Sites: Updated on July 22, 2020
Changes Coming to Community Testing Efforts in Buncombe County- Testing on Hold as Adjustments are Made
For many weeks now, Buncombe County and clinical partner, Western North Carolina Community Health Services (WNCCHS) have tested over 850 people per week at the COVID-19 community testing sites. The community testing sites are meant to serve residents of Buncombe County who meet criteria for testing and cannot access testing elsewhere. As we know with COVID-19, change is the only constant and we are continuously pivoting, expanding, and contracting our response accordingly.
We are grateful to those agencies who have stepped up to assist during these community testing events. A tremendous effort by many community partners has made testing possible thus far. Support for the testing sites has come from WNCCHS, Buncombe Fire and Rescue, Asheville City Fire Department, Buncombe County Government, Western Carolina Medical Society, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, AB Tech, and MAHEC School Health. This has required intense logistical coordination, testing procurement and processing, lab capacity, major administrative needs, volunteer management, medical interpreters, and resources for testing notification and education.
Due to challenges with staffing and capacity, WNCCHS will no longer be the clinical partner for community testing sites, effective immediately. Additionally, with cases increasing and wait times for test results through the current lab vendor continuing to remain higher than the recommended 48 hour or less time frame, adjustments need to be made to community testing for a more sustainable and effective model to serve the residents of Buncombe County.
Moving forward, the county’s community testing efforts will be performed by Buncombe County Government. This means that the County will provide coordination and implementation of all community testing functions such as site logistics and safety, screening and registration, specimen collection, lab contracting, and notification of results. Community testing sites in Buncombe County will be paused until these adjustments are made. The County anticipates that the updated model will be back on line early August. People who have been tested at previous community testing sites should refer to the guidance given to them at the site about how to receive their test results. More information on how to access these test results can be found here.
People who need COVID-19 testing can arrange for testing through most urgent cares, some pharmacies, or their primary care provider. Please visit the Find My Testing Place website for testing options near you.
Dr. Jennifer Mullendore, Interim Buncombe County Public Health Director, wants people to know that this community testing will be back on line as soon as possible. “The County believes that testing is important and we are committed to making sure that everyone who needs testing in our communities has access to testing. Pausing our testing while we pull in resources to staff, streamline and improve processes is what we must do at this moment. We have heard concerns that this is some sort of attempt on our part to keep numbers low, but it is not. In order to meet the needs of our communities more effectively, we have to take a brief step back and adjust our strategy. We intend to move towards a community testing model that is built on best practices and on the successes of other NC counties, who have also had to adjust and pivot to further refine their testing efforts.” Dr. Mullendore continues, “This realignment of testing efforts will ensure that residents and people who work in Buncombe County will have access to COVID-19 testing if they need it and will ensure a more rapid test turnaround time. The move also aligns the resources needed to transition to mass vaccination once a vaccine for COVID becomes available.”
Please assess your need for testing if you think you might have COVID-19 or have been in close contact to someone with COVID-19, regardless of your symptoms. The Buncombe Ready COVID-19 Self Checker is one resource you can use. You may also contact your healthcare provider or you can also click here to find a testing location near you.
As a reminder, prevention, not testing, should be the primary focus of everyone. Limit activities outside your household and follow the 3 W’s – wear a mask, wait 6 feet away from others, and wash your hands. These practices will help us all get back to school, work, and will keep more people healthy and safe in Buncombe County.