CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For several months now, getting a COVID-19 test in the Charlotte area has been difficult. Resources have been strained since the omicron surge started, making lines long and wait times for results slower than usual.
The line at the new site at the Park Expo Center in east Charlotte was nonexistent most of the day. Officials said it could be for a few reasons, including people not knowing about it yet.
But other usually popular sites weren’t busy either, raising the question if this relief is too little too late.
Just a few days ago, wait times at COVID-19 testing sites in the greater Charlotte area were guaranteed to be hours long.
“We went from testing 30,000 people a month to 130,000 people a month,” Michael Estramonte, the CEO of StarMed Healthcare, said.
Tuesday was virtually the first-time staff at StarMed’s Tuckaseegee Road location could take a breather, just as three more sites opened around the county to relieve some of the pressure.
“We wish we had it a month ago,” Estramonte said.
MAKO Medical is up and running at the Park Expo, First Baptist Church of Cornelius, and R.C. Bradford Park in Huntersville. Between the three sites, thousands more people a day can be tested.
“If it’s easier for people they’re more likely to get tested and to reduce the wait times, take some of the pressure off the urgent cares and hospitals in the area,” Eric Kristensen with MAKO Medical said.
He added the first week at a new site is always hit or miss, as people figure out the resource is available. But as cases begin to plateau, and free at-home testing kits are sent out by the federal government, demand for in-person testing could start dropping off.
“The great thing about now is that we’re in place, all of the infrastructure here, everything is set up, resources are available, so if we need to slow things down for a little bit it will be that much easier if things do spike again, for us to get up in running in days instead of weeks,” Kristensen said.
No appointments are needed for the new sites. The hours of operation are:
Park Expo Center
2500 E Independence Blvd, Charlotte, NC, 28205
Monday - Friday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
First Baptist Church of Cornelius
21007 Catawba Ave, Cornelius, NC, 28031
Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
R.C. Bradford Park
17005 Davidson-Concord Rd, Huntersville, NC, 28078
Monday - Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Adjusted hours for winter weather
Just before 6 p.m. Friday, StarMed Healthcare announced almost all outdoor testing sites in the Charlotte area would be closed Saturday, Jan. 29 because of the winter weather. The only outdoor location open will be the clinic on Tuckaseegee Road in west Charlotte and on reduced hours, from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. The indoor clinic at that location will also be open.
Two other indoor StarMed locations will also stay open Saturday: the Eastland family and urgent care center on Central Avenue and the antibody treatment location on North Wendover Road.