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Charlotte businessman pursuing in-home COVID 19 tests

The Carolinas continue to rank at the bottom of states when it comes to the percentage of people tested for COVID-19.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Numbers from the COVID-19 Tracking Project show North Carolina and South Carolina are among the worst in the country when it comes to testing capacity for COVID-19, with less than 1 percent of each state's population tested at this point.

In North Carolina alone, Governor Roy Cooped said just 2,500 to 3,000 people a day can be tested. He said the state is trying to at least double that number.

"We need an increase in testing," Gov. Cooper said Thursday.

Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said, for now, the county is continuing to prioritize testing for those with symptoms, people who are most at risk and exposed first responders and health care, workers.

"We've got limited access to testing," Harris said Friday.

As our states try to catch up, Charlotte-area businessman Brett Portaro is working to be among the first to help provide in-home tests that give results in just 15 minutes.

Right now, our country is relying on health care providers to test the public using point of care tests.

"We have 328 million people in this country. You don't have enough clinicians involved in order to do that," he said. "(Home test kits are) the only way to help America get back to work again."

Portaro, the CEO of Charter Oak Development, recently trademarked COVID-19 Rapid Test with the federal government. He said he's close to finalizing a deal with Chinese biomedical companies to distribute more already approved tests. However, he said the rapid home test he trademarked, still awaiting FDA approval, is stalled in China.

"It's just a matter of when," Portaro said. "The (Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization) process is really not that difficult. It's really in China's hands."

Portaro said new Chinese export restrictions are preventing one of the companies there from securing government approval and shipping the home tests to the United States. He said that's a problem since China is home to firms that can mass-produce tests.

"You're going to have to bring on a manufacturer who can mass-produce," he said. 

He said the company working on the in-home rapid test can produce more than two million tests a day.

"Those are the types of numbers that you need in order for us to get this accomplished and for us to be able to be testing enough people for them to feel comfortable to go back to work."

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