Free nose swab PCR tests for COVID-19 will be available to the public at West Park in North Wilkesboro on four days each week in April, announced the Wilkes County Health Department.

The testing starts Thursday, April 1. Hours then will be noon to 6 p.m. to allow time to set up, said Jared Belk, health department health education supervisor.

Normal hours will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, said Belk. The location is 1906 West Park Drive, next to the Health Foundation office.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services contracted with OptumServe to provide the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing. Health officials say this is the most accurate and reliable testing for COVID-19. A PCR test is performed to detect genetic material from a specific organism, such as a virus.

Belk said results of a PCR test are usually back in 20 hours. He added that officials haven’t decided yet if need exists to extend the testing beyond April.

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