The StarMed Healthcare team has been on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 for close to two years now, and the recent surge of the Omicron variant has brought possibly the most chaotic time for staff. Long lines, short supplies and now weather — StarMed was forced to close all Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools COVID-19 testing sites and open its remaining Charlotte sites on a delay Monday due to high winds and rain — have created obstacles for the small health-care company.
The highly contagious nature of the Omicron variant has led to a soaring demand for testing, which was made more difficult due to wind and rainstorms that passed through Charlotte on Monday morning.
While StarMed had to repeatedly push back the opening of their drive-thru testing sites on Tuckaseegee Road and Central Avenue — still scheduled for a 2 p.m. opening at the time of this writing — they were forced to close all testing sites on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools properties as well as their South Boulevard location, citing wind damage to tents that had been set up in the parking lot.
StarMed offers an online portal in which you can find out which testing sites are still open near you by entering your zip code. There is also testing available at participating CVS and Walgreens locations, as well as a number of other Charlotte COVID-19 testing sites listed here.
Mecklenburg County Public Health (MCPH) has been distributing free at-home tests to help meet the demand, though they ran out in December. MCPH officials have said more tests are on the way this week, and upon arrival will be distributed from local library branches again. The NC Department of Health and Human Services offers guidance on which at-home tests are approved by the FDA.
According to the latest data from MCPH, the number of confirmed positive cases nearly doubled in the last week of December, from 6,040 positive test results recorded among Mecklenburg County residents on Dec. 26 to 11,168 recorded on Jan. 1.
New preventative treatment offered
Despite the obstacles, StarMed continues to throw what they can at the coronavirus, announcing Monday the rollout of a new preventative treatment for immunocompromised people to be offered at all of StarMed’s monoclonal treatment centers in Charlotte, Gastonia, Fayetteville, Jacksonville, and New Bern.
StarMed is now offering the drug Evusheld, granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in early December. Unlike previous monoclonal antibodies offered to COVID-19 patients, Evusheld is administered before a person becomes infected, and can reduce their chance of getting COVID-19 by up to 83% and reduce their rate of death by up to 50%, according to StarMed.
Not everyone is currently eligible for Evusheld, however, as it is targeted at those who are immunocompromised and/or can’t get the vaccine. Potential Evusheld patients either must have a health condition that prevents their body from developing a strong enough response to a COVID-19 vaccination or can’t receive a COVID-19 vaccine because of severe allergic reactions.
Patients must also be 12 years old or older and weigh at least 88 pounds. They cannot have COVID-19 or have been recently exposed to someone with the virus. AstraZeneca has agreed to supply the U.S. government with 700,000 doses of Evusheld. Supplies are limited and a patient will require a provider evaluation prior to the drug being administered.
Learn more about preventative treatment through Evusheld and schedule a virtual visit for an evaluation at the StarMed website.