North Carolina Will Help Test College Students for Covid-19 Ahead of Holidays

In this Aug. 18, 2020, file photo, a student works outside Ehrighaus dormitory on campus at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.

In this Aug. 18, 2020, file photo, a student works outside Ehrighaus dormitory on campus at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C. Associated Press

 

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The state will distribute more than 74,000 rapid antigen Covid-19 tests to colleges and universities.

North Carolina will provide nearly 75,000 Covid-19 tests to colleges and universities throughout the state to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus as students prepare to head home for Thanksgiving, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Friday.

The state Department of Health and Human Services will provide 74,470 rapid antigen tests to both public and private colleges and universities “to test students before they travel home or celebrate the holidays with people who live outside their household,” according to a news release.

State officials will also work with five county-level health departments to host additional community testing events near campuses as part of an ongoing partnership with institutions of higher learning.

Cooper said the increased testing capability for students will help prevent further spread of the virus, but only if people who travel for the holidays continue to take other precautions.

“Getting Covid-19 tests to college campuses is one way we can prevent more viral spread across the state as students go home,” he said in a statement. “However, wearing a mask and maintaining social distance continue to be our strongest weapons against this virus as we approach the winter holiday.”

Health officials also cautioned that a negative test result does not guarantee safety, as Covid-19 patients can be contagious for several days before a test will return a positive result.

“Tests represent a moment in time,” said Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, secretary of the state health department. “Students and families should still...wear a mask, wash hands often and keep a distance of 6 feet from others.”

The announcement comes as coronavirus continues to surge across the country, including in North Carolina. The state reported an additional 1,972 cases of the virus on Monday, bringing its total to 314,207.

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a staff correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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