COVID-19 tests from Georgia being brought to Charlotte for processing to help backlog

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A volunteer pilot group with members here in the Charlotte area is getting results for people desperately waiting for word on their coronavirus tests.

The tests have already been performed, but so many places are packed right now with testing and people down in Georgia need those test results, so, they’re flying them here.

“Testing has lagged a little bit in the country,” Blanton Hamilton said. 

Hamilton is a volunteer pilot carrying coronavirus tests from the Macon, GA area to Charlotte, saving precious time, and getting a faster result for people needing an answer.

“They’re doing one of these trips a day,” Hamilton said. 

Hamilton does these flights for Angel Flight, which, normally, would be flying people in for surgeries. Over the last month, however, they’ve had to adapt to a new reality.

“We’ve been very busy, and when this virus came up, there are testing stations all over the southeast, with very few labs and these swabs have to be tested,” said Doug Ellis, who also works with Angel Flight. 

Testing centers nearby to Macon just can’t handle it all.

“We’ve got one in Atlanta and one in Augusta, Georgia, but they’re full. They’re operating at full steam.  But charlotte said they have capacity here,” Ellis said. 

The bags they transfer essentially just have styrofoam containers in it, full of the tests that are now headed for analysis.

For Hamilton, he says he’s not worried by his cargo, he’s just glad he can help out.

“I love to fly, it’s my favorite thing to do, so any chance to fly, I’m taking it,” Hamilton said. 

The plane is a cramped space, though, so they are have had to step up some protective measures on the flights.

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