Pitt County reached 1,000 reported cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the same day local health officials modified their free testing program because of unexpectedly high turnout.

Data from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services placed Pitt County’s lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 right at 1,000.

The Pitt County Health Department’s figures, which typically are higher than the state numbers, had not been updated on Wednesday because employees were working at testing sites and unable to compile the updated numbers.

“While 1,000 COVID positive cases is by no means a celebratory milestone, it is important to highlight that this total case number comes after five months of active monitoring and response efforts,” Pitt County Manager Scott Elliott said.

“Additionally, nearly 800 of these have been estimated recovered,” he said. “Given the length of time and the number of estimated recovered, the relatively low active case count that results speaks volumes to the tireless dedication, response, and public awareness efforts of (public health director) Dr. John Silvernail and our health department staff.”

Starting today, the hours for the mobile testing sites are from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The department has a permanent mobile site at J.H. Rose High School and a site that moves among the county’s smaller towns. The rotating site will be at Ayden Middle School today and the Winterville Fire Station on Friday.

The department also is opening a walk-up only site with no drive-through option, at the Greenville Housing Authority Moyewood Center, 1710 W. Third St. This location will operate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Testing at the health department offices will continue to operate from 3-6 p.m. on Tuesdays.

In inclement weather, all sites will transition to walk-up-only operations.

The health department on Monday started offering free COVID-19 testing to Pitt County residents.

Staff estimated they would collect 150-160 nasal swabs daily, Silvernail said.

Instead, 440 people were tested at J.H. Rose High School and Farmville Community Center on Monday and Tuesday saw a similar turnout. Wednesday’s numbers were unavailable.

“It has imposed a tremendous strain on our staff,” Silvernail said. “We thought our staff would be able to go inside structures, cool off between sampling, but because of the volume of sampling our staff has just been out in the heat, in the sunlight and we really have some concerns about our staff suffering heat-related illness such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion.”

The unexpected volume also has made it difficult to label and process the samples so they can be shipped to Vidant Health for testing.

Once a sample is taken, there is a three-day window for lab testing to be performed, Silvernail said.

It was the goal of the health department and Vidant to have results returned in 24 hours, but that hasn’t been possible at this time.

Silvernail did not have information on how many tests had been completed, but 24 positive results had been identified.

Kimberly Hardy, the health department’s director of nursing, encouraged people to make appointments to be tested. Appointments can be made by calling 902-2449.

“Even though we maybe compressing the schedule and doing less hours in the field we will open up our capacity for the morning scheduled for free testing,” Hardy said.

Additional testing

The health department will be assisting the Andrew A. Best Medical Society, Old North Medical Society and Koinonia Christian Center with a free drive-up COVID-19 testing event scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Koinonia Christian Center parking lot, 1405 S.W. Greenville Blvd.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.