In a war against a virus, more good information is one weapon to use against the invisible enemy, and on Tuesday, July 7, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) issued a new statewide standing order for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, and the state’s health director also issued a temporary order regarding the reporting of the results of those tests.

The new orders will mean that people across the state will have access to the tests without any need for a referral from a doctor, and they’ll also allow the subjects to know sooner whether they have the virus or not.

Under the new orders, the test result has to be reported to the patient, or made available to them by the testing site “as soon as possible” – but no more than 24 hours after receiving the result.

The testing site must also, according to the orders, provide the findings – positive or negative – to the patient’s primary care provider if they have one.

NCDHHS State Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson stated on Tuesday that more testing is a good thing and she said new orders should mean more access to those tests.

“Testing is an important component of the state’s strategy to slow the spread of the virus, and today’s order will make it easier for North Carolinians to get tested,” she said.

The Statewide Standing Order allows testing sites to collect and submit samples to a laboratory for testing “without requiring a specific order,” and it also authorizes the testing sites to get the results directly from laboratories.

According to state officials, “This will facilitate community-based testing sites and reduce barriers to testing, especially for members of historically marginalized populations who may be less likely to have a medical home.”

The state took the action, officials said, in order to reduce existing barriers to coronavirus testing as well as to increase the availability of results.