COVID-19 update in Mecklenburg: County is ‘on target’ for coronavirus testing goal

COVID-19 update in Mecklenburg: County is ‘on target’ for coronavirus testing goal
COVID-19 update in Mecklenburg: County is ‘on target’ for coronavirus testing goal (Source: Associated Press)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Charlotte Observer) - Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said Friday that Mecklenburg is “on target” to test 5% of county residents for coronavirus over a 30-day period, part of a statewide effort to better capture how many people are infected with COVID-19 in North Carolina.

Atrium Health and Novant Health, in the last two weeks, have administered about 20,500 tests locally, Harris said during a Friday virtual news conference. Harris announced in early May that Mecklenburg aims to test about 55,500 people by early June.

Mecklenburg is almost halfway — 40% — into the 30-day timeline and has so far reached about 37% of the county’s goal.

“I believe we are well on track to reach that 5% (goal),” Harris told reporters.

The county has made up some ground from the early days of increased testing but is still about 4,000 tests behind schedule. During the first week, Mecklenburg fell short of its goal, which requires an average of 1,850 tests per day.

That testing gap will likely be overcome next week, Harris said, once Mecklenburg collects data on private healthcare companies also offering COVID-19 data.

“We are not getting reports of the number of tests that are being completed by a number of private entities in our community...the problem is we can’t track that information,” Harris said.

As testing has increased, so has the average number of new cases reported each day.

In early May, just before the new testing strategy went into effect, the 7-day average of new cases reported daily was about 48. One week in, the average of daily new cases rose to about 56. On Friday, the 7-day average was 81.

There were more than 2,970 coronavirus cases and 73 deaths as of Friday afternoon, Harris said.

Around 6 percent of the people tested for coronavirus in Mecklenburg have been diagnosed with COVID-19, county data show.

WHO GETS TESTED FOR COVID-19?

The county’s expanded testing follow a three-tiered approach.

Before the program started this month, testing was already underway for the first priority group, which includes people with moderate to severe coronavirus symptoms, as well as those ages 65 and older with underlying health conditions who have likely been exposed.

Harris said the program’s second priority group is now eligible for testing, encompassing adults and children with mild symptoms. People with medium to high risk of exposure to the coronavirus can also be tested in this group.

Health officials are also considering including the third priority group soon, intended for individuals who “support critical infrastructure” and those who are asymptomatic but may have COVID-19.

There are over 30 sites in Mecklenburg that offer COVID-19 tests.

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