Last week, Governor Roy Cooper announced that the state is providing COVID-19 tests to colleges and universities across North Carolina to help bolster schools’ student testing efforts in advance of Thanksgiving and holiday break.
NCDHHS is sending a total of 74,470 federally-funded rapid antigen tests to public and private colleges and universities across North Carolina, including historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), to test students before they travel home or celebrate the holidays with people who live outside their household.
Additionally, NCDHHS is working with local health departments in Guilford, Harnett, New Hanover, Mecklenburg and Pitt counties to host community testing events near college and university campuses for students who need tests before the end of the semester. These testing efforts are part of an ongoing partnership with colleges, universities and HBCUs across the state.
“Getting COVID-19 tests to college campuses is one way we can prevent more viral spread across the state as students go home,” Governor Cooper said. “However, wearing a mask and maintaining social distance continue to be our strongest weapons against this virus as we approach the winter holidays.”
“We encourage everyone to plan ahead and get a COVID-19 test before they leave campus or gather with friends and family over the holidays,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, MD. “But even if a test result is negative, it’s not a guarantee. Tests represent a moment in time. So students and their families should still practice the 3Ws and wear a mask, wash hands often, and keep a distance of 6 feet from others.”
North Carolina is experiencing high numbers of COVID-19 cases across the state, and NCDHHS urges caution when gathering for Thanksgiving and other holiday celebrations.
Limiting travel and gatherings with anyone outside a person’s household is the safest way to celebrate. For those who wish to travel or celebrate the holiday with people who do not live in their household, NCDHHS recommends a COVID-19 test three to four days in advance.
NCDHHS also released guidance for students to help them have safer holiday breaks. This guidance includes recommendations for quarantining and isolation, precautions and preventive measures students can take while on holiday break, and recommendations for steps to take when returning to campus after the holidays.
Since the spring, NCDHHS has communicated regularly with schools across the state and has conducted more intensive outreach to support schools with multiple clusters or outbreaks by providing guidance and resources such as surge testing and support for isolation and quarantine, contact tracing, and case investigations.