“Laboratory-reporting omissions” during the past four days apparently accounted for the recent declining trend in single-day case reports statewide, according to a notice posted online today by the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
A correction of the mistake resulted today in a more than 75-percent increase in single-day laboratory-confirmed cases over yesterday’s single-day total, as the NCDHHS reported 1,979 new cases and a positivity rate of 6.4 percent.
Since yesterday, 42 more people have died as a result of COVID-19, for a total of 2,092 fatalities.
COVID-19-related hospitalizations, which the NCDHHS announced recently in another data correction had been underreported, dropped today to 1,147 from 1,167 yesterday.
The subject of the “turnaround time” for COVID-19 tests came up during the media portion of Governor Roy Cooper’s briefing yesterday afternoon, in which he announced a five-week extension of Phase Two in North Carolina’s reopening.
The five-week extension marks the third time that the Governor has “paused” Phase Two since he implemented the phase on May 22.
Test-result turnaround time is critical to effective contact tracing, and contact tracing is critical to assessing the spread of COVID-19, which has an incubation period of from two to 14 days.
“Different labs have different turnaround times,” HHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said yesterday in response to a reporter’s question about delayed test results.
Although Dr. Cohen said the “overall” turnaround time for test results statewide is three to four days, she also acknowledged that some laboratories are taking as long as six to seven days.
North Carolina has joined a bipartisan purchasing coalition with at least six other states, including Maryland and Virginia, that plans to buy 3.5 million COVID-19 tests that deliver diagnostic results in 15 minutes.
The rapid antigen tests, which are being manufactured by Becton, Dickinson and Co. of New Jersey and Quidel Corp. of California, are reportedly not as sensitive as those done in labs, but they are cheaper in addition to being much quicker.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, negotiated the test purchase deal during the final days of his term as chairman of the National Governors Assn., which ended yesterday. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, now steps into this role.
“With severe shortages and delays in testing and the federal administration attempting to cut funding for testing,” Hogan said in a statement Tuesday, “the states are banding together to acquire millions of faster tests to help save lives and slow the spread of COVID-19.”
So far, four states led by Democratic governors have joined the coalition: Louisiana, Michigan, Virginia, and North Carolina. The other three members are Republican-led Massachusetts, Ohio, and Maryland.
“Testing is key to slowing the spread of COVID-19,” Governor Cooper said yesterday, “and I’m proud to work with other governors on this plan to expand testing in North Carolina.”
North Carolina is expected to buy 500,000 rapid-antigen tests or one-seventh of the 3.5 million tests purchased by the coalition, according to today’s Raleigh News & Observer.
An antigen is a toxin or other foreign substance—such as a bacterium or a virus—that induces an immune response in the human body, especially the production of antibodies to fight the antigen.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 8/6/20