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West End Plaza becomes COVID-19 testing site

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — As part of a statewide initiative to expand COVID-19 testing, county officials have designated the parking lot of the West End Plaza a drive-thru site, with no need for residents to leave their vehicle.

The free testing site is funded from the county’s $2.56 million grant awarded from the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund. Among the approved use of funds are medical expenses for testing, public telemedicine capabilities as well as expenses in public hospitals, clinics and temporarily established medical facilities.

The Rowan County Health Department entered into a testing contract with Raleigh-based Mako Medical in the amount of $212,500, allowing for up to 2,500 residents. County Public Health Director Nina Oliver said additional tests can be obtained if needed.

The testing site at the West End Plaza, located at 1935 Jake Alexander W. Blvd., is available every Monday in June from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oliver said the demand for tests will be evaluated later in the month to determine if dates for the site should be scheduled beyond June.

“This is the county’s effort to offer a completely free, convenient, hassle-free resource,” said Chris Soliz, chief of Rowan County Emergency Services.

Testing criteria has been expanded to include anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, within close contact of positive cases, at higher risk of severe illness, part of a historically marginalized population, a health care worker or first responder and front-line/essential workers.

The five-minute testing process begins with drivers completing demographic information before being directed to another tent for the nasal swab test. Mako Medical conducts the test while drivers remain in their vehicles. Individuals are then instructed to self-isolate until viewing their test results, which Mako Medical can make available on an online web portal within two to four days.

Around lunchtime on Monday, about 20-30 individuals had been tested. County health department and Mako Medical staff anticipate more people will be interested in the upcoming June dates.

The West End Plaza site is one of multiple mobile testing locations in the county. Residents can also be tested for free at the county health department, located at 1811 E. Innes St., every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon.

Other mobile sites include the Food Lion parking lot, located at 313 Salisbury Ave. in Spencer, on June 3 and June 17, from 1-5 p.m., as well as Rowan Helping Ministries, located at 226 N. Long St., on June 15 and June 29, from 1-5 p.m.

“Tests are available, and we’re ready to meet the demand, whatever it is,” Soliz said.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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