RALEIGH — The state’s governor and health secretary on June 8 expressed concerns that North Carolina’s COVID-19 trends are accelerating in the wrong direction, as June 8 and 9 marked the highest number of current virus-related hospitalizations in the state (749 and 774, respectively) and June 6 marked the highest number of new cases reported in one day, at 1,370.
N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen also said that the percent of tests that are positive statewide is now among the highest in the nation — the percentage has been fluctuating between 9 and 10 percent since June 3. Cohen said on June 5 that she received a call expressing concerns about North Carolina’s numbers from Dr. Deborah Birx, coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
“I am concerned,” Cohen said. “These trends moving in the wrong direction is a signal we need to take very seriously.”
Cohen said the state will continue to ramp up testing and work closely with health departments on contact tracing for positive cases.
“We must remember that this virus is still out there and can be deadly,” Gov. Roy Cooper said.
As of June 9, 34 cases had been confirmed in Watauga County residents, with 21 of those active and 23 additional people in the county being monitored due to exposure to confirmed cases, according to AppHealthCare. Additionally, 34 people have tested positive in AppHealthCare’s three-county service area (Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany) who are residents of other counties. Five people in the three counties have been hospitalized due to the virus, AppHealthCare reported.
On June 9, NCDHHS released updated guidance for doctors and clinicians on who should be tested for COVID-19.
North Carolina is focused on rapidly increasing testing of people who may not currently have symptoms, but may have been exposed to COVID-19, especially people from historically marginalized populations who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
The guidance recommends that clinicians conduct or arrange for diagnostic COVID-19 testing for:
- Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.
- Close contacts of known positive cases, regardless of symptoms.
- The following groups are some of the populations with higher risk of exposure or a higher risk of severe disease if they become infected. People in these groups should get tested if they believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19, whether or not they have symptoms.
- People who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings (e.g., long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility, migrant farmworker camp).
- Historically marginalized populations who may be at higher risk for exposure.
- Frontline and essential workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, child care workers, construction sites, processing plants, etc.) in settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
- Health care workers or first responders (e.g. EMS, law enforcement, fire department, military).
- People who are at high risk of severe illness (e.g., people over 65 years of age, people of any age with underlying health conditions).
People who have attended protests, rallies or other mass gatherings could have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or could have exposed others. Testing should be considered for people who attended such events, particularly if they were in crowds or other situations where they couldn’t practice effective social distancing.
NCDHHS has new tools to help people know if they should consider being tested for COVID-19 and to find a nearby testing place:
- ), a public website that allows people to enter their symptoms to determine if they should consider getting tested for COVID-19. If a test is recommended, they will receive a link to a list of nearby testing sites via email or text.
- ), a public website that allows people to enter their county or ZIP code and access a list of nearby testing site locations online.
To learn more about the COVID-19 response in North Carolina, visit nc.gov/covid19.