RALEIGH — A total of 137 positive COVID-19 cases, up 40 from the day before, was confirmed by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services in an update posted at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, March 20.
The total comes from 28 different counties, six of which confirmed their first cases in the last day, including New Hanover, Pasquotank and Pitt counties. Watauga County confirmed its second COVID-19 case on March 18, while Ashe, Avery, Caldwell and Wilkes counties all have not announced any positive COVID-19 cases.
The total of confirmed positive tests have continued to increase the last several days as testing becomes more available across the state. A total of 3,233 people have been tested as of 9:30 a.m. on Friday, March 20, up from 2,505 the day before, according to DHHS.
According to AppHealthCare, the Watauga County district health department, it has administered 53 COVID-19 tests to date, while “outside agencies” have tested 59 additional people in Watauga.
“The two positive cases in Watauga County are in isolation,” Melissa Bracey of AppHealthCare said. “Close contacts of those in isolation are under quarantine and those who are undergoing testing have been told to self-isolate."
Mecklenburg County’s cases increased from 13 to 28 in the last day, according to the N.C. DHHS. The county itself reports that it has 30 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a Twitter post on March 19. Wake County has 23 cases and Durham County had 33, according to the N.C. DHHS.
At times, the information reported by individual counties differs from the N.C. DHHS, which updates its COVID-19 count webpage daily.
"Reportable diseases, like COVID19, are reported by county of residence, not where the test was performed," said Kelly Haight Connor, communications manager with the N.C. DHHS. "The count on our website is accurate and updated every morning."
At a March 19 press event, Cooper said that a case in Wilson County is the first confirmed case of community spread, which means the person had not traveled nor been in contact with a known positive case.
As stated by N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper and other state officials, the number of actual COVID-19 cases is likely higher than reported numbers due to the time it takes to complete the tests. The COVID-19 tests can take at least 24 hours to confirm, Bracey previously said. Appalachian Regional Healthcare System Senior Vice President for Advancement Rob Hudspeth said on March 18 that curbside test results could take up to four days.
Testing options in Watauga
According to the N.C. DHHS, those who have fever or lower respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) and close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case within the past 14 days, or who have a fever and lower respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) with a negative rapid flu test qualify for a COVID-19 test.
Curbside COVID-19 testing sites have been set up in Watauga and Avery counties by third parties with help from Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. ARHS Senior Vice President for Advancement Rob Hudspeth emphasized that people should not travel to the testing locations without an appointment.
If someone has symptoms of fever, cough or shortness or breath, the person is asked to connect to RelyMD online at relymd.com/covidarhs on a computer or mobile device. With the coupon code BEWELLARHS, the screening with RelyMD costs $49, which doesn't go to ARHS, Hudspeth stated. If the RelyMD physician determines that you meet the criteria for testing, ARHS says, the provider will help you make your appointment at an ARHS remote testing location in Watauga or Avery County.
Bracey confirmed that screening and testing is available at AppHealthCare. AppHealthCare asks that people inquiring about testing call (828) 264-4995, which is available 24/7, and follow the prompts.
High Country Community Health, a Boone-based federally qualified health center that serves uninsured and under-insured patients, asks that people call AppHealthCare.
The Community Care Clinic, a free clinic that provides health care to low-income, uninsured persons, and based in Boone, asks that people experiencing any flu-like respiratory symptoms, fever, cough or shortness of breath do not come to the clinic but instead contact its clinical staff by phone at (828) 265-8591.
Bracey also noted that ASU is testing students for COVID-19, which ASU spokesperson Megan Hayes confirmed.
“If a student has traveled internationally or been around someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has a cough, shortness of breath or fever, they should call (828) 262-3100 and ask to speak with a nurse — before coming to the clinic in person — so we can maximize treatment effectiveness while reducing the potential risk of exposing others,” ASU’s M.S. Shook Student Health Service states on its website.