Drive-up coronavirus testing will be available to residents of Rowan County Thursday, Aug. 27, marking the first in a series of clinics aimed at expanding testing options for North Carolina's communities of color.
The Rowan County testing site will operate 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at North Kannapolis Elementary School. Participants will be tested at no charge and will remain in their cars, said Alyssa Harris, community health manager for the Rowan County Health Department.
Similar clinics are planned in eight other North Carolina counties through the Advanced Center for COVID Related Disparities (ACCORD), an initiative of the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical Biotechnology Research Institute (JLC-BBRI) at North Carolina Central University.
“COVID-19 has amplified inequalities and health disparities among underserved communities,” said Nina Oliver, director of Public Health for Rowan County. “Increased testing and eventually, vaccinations, are two important strategies to manage COVID-19, and we want to make sure these communities have access.”
At each of the testing sites, health workers will distribute educational materials about COVID-19 and ask participants to fill out a survey on the impact of COVID and their attitudes toward testing and taking a vaccination once it is developed.
Counties involved in the testing program are Anson, Cabarrus, Durham, Granville, Halifax, New Hanover, Rowan, Vance and Warren. The service is open to all residents of the county, but those from African American and Hispanic/Latinx communities are especially encouraged to participate.
“Providing access to health care services and information is an important step toward addressing health disparities,” said Brittany Baker, DNP, a faculty member at NCCU’s Department of Nursing.
Risk factors for infection, severe symptoms and adverse outcomes from COVID-19 are linked to underlying conditions that disproportionately affect communities of color. These conditions include heart disease, chronic kidney and liver disease, lung disease and immune disorders.
ACCORD was created with $1 million in funding from the University of North Carolina Board of Governors’ Historically Minority-Serving Institutions Committee to address COVID-19 related disparities. The center also leverages support from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at JLC-BBRI.
“ACCORD is an important initiative and is aligned with our mission to address health disparities,” said Deepak Kumar, Ph.D., director of JLC-BBRI.