North Carolina today reported a single-day record high of 853 new lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases, as the positive test rate jumped to 12 percent, a rate that The Beacon cannot recall seeing in the state.
While Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, continued to stress in a press conference yesterday that more COVID cases are being reported because testing capacity has increased significantly, the number of tests being done should not affect the positive test rate, which is a key COVID-19 indicator.
Ideally, for North Carolina to progress into Phase Two, the positive test rate over a 14-day period should be declining or leveling off. That is not occurring.
In the early weeks of COVID-19 testing in North Carolina, the positive test rate—which is the percentage of positive test results in a batch of completed tests—averaged around 9 percent, as The Beacon recalls. Twelve percent is certainly the highest positive rate recorded in testing done in May. We do not know all of the daily rates in April.
According to today’s NCDHHS dashboard, 853 people out of 7,039 tested positive for COVID-19, up from yesterday’s totals of 622 confirmed cases among 12,279 tests, for an encouraging positive rate of 5 percent.
Hospitalizations statewide dropped 11 to 652, and deaths increased by 11. The Beacon has not been reporting deaths statewide, but we plan to start doing so, to see if and how well they might correlate with declines in hospitalizations.
Also yesterday, Dr. Cohen announced new guidance for determining who should be tested for COVID-19. The NCDHHS has recommended that clinicians test any patient in whom they suspect COVID-19 and also directed that they ensure access to testing to the following populations, regardless of their symptoms:
- Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.
- Close contacts of known positive cases, regardless of symptoms.
- Persons who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings (e.g., long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility, migrant farmworker camp).
- Persons who are at high risk of severe illness (e.g., people over 65 years of age, people of any age with underlying health conditions).
- Persons who come from historically marginalized populations.
- Healthcare workers or first responders (e.g., EMS, law enforcement, fire department, military).
- Front-line and essential workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, etc.) in settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
“We want anyone who needs a test to get one,” Dr. Cohen said.
As The Beacon reported 5/14/20, free COVID-19 testing is not available in Dare County.
In a videotaped message Thursday, Sheila Davies, director of the Dare County Dept. of HHS, said that she expects to announce next week details of a local initiative for free drive-thru COVID-19 testing.
For more information, see:
Press release on guidelines for who should be tested: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/news/press-releases/ncdhhs-updates-guidance-who-should-be-tested-covid-19
Press release on status of COVID-19 indicators after one week of Phase One: https://governor.nc.gov/news/north-carolina%E2%80%99s-key-covid-19-indicators-remain-stable
List of COVID-19 testing sites in N.C.: https://files.nc.gov/covid/documents/about/testing/collection-sites.pdf
DON’T FORGET: THE SOUTHERN SHORES TOWN COUNCIL WILL HOLD AN IMPORTANT WORKSHOP MEETING ON TUESDAY, MAY 19, AT 9 A.M.
The Beacon will post a meeting preview on Monday.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/16/20