NCDHHS: N.C. COVID-19 test results returning quicker; trends and trajectory slightly improving

NCDHHS: N.C. COVID-19 test results returning quicker; trends and trajectory slightly improving
NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen urges North Carolina residents to continue social distancing. (Source: WECT)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - As COVID-19 tests continue to increase, North Carolina health officials say results are coming back quicker.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, says the average turnaround for test results is about two days.

Health officials say the return time has been nearly cut in half.

“Our testing time turnaround has greatly improved,” Cohen said. “People are getting their results faster.”

As of Thursday afternoon, North Carolina has completed 1,850,689 tests since the beginning of the pandemic.

There have also been 140,824 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases statewide.

“Test results are coming back faster, and that’s a good thing,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.

Cohen hinted at continuously posting the turnaround time on the NCDHHS website, but added that different labs have different turnaround times, which could sometimes alter the timetable.

“That is something we would like to do, but I want to note on the front end that different labs have different turnaround times,” Cohen said. “We are trying to think about a thoughtful way to present that information.”

Cohen encourages those who have COVID-19 symptoms, may have been exposed, have been in a large crowd have been in a high-risk environment to seek testing.

There are free coronavirus testing sites throughout North Carolina.

Cohen also said she is encouraged by the trajectory and trends in North Carolina.

She displayed charts at Thursday’s briefing showing declines in key metrics.

“As you look at this, you don’t see a surge or a spike,” Cohen said. “We have avoided the surge of cases other southern states continue to see.”

Cohen said there has been a slight decline in emergency room visits of patients showing symptoms. She also said the percent positive tests are starting to dip and hospitalizations are leveling off.

Cohen also suggested that wearing face masks and social distancing has helped the declining trends.

“Our trends tell the story of sacrificing and hard work that has allowed us to see the start of declines in our key metrics,” Cohen said.

As schools start for many North Carolina public schools, with in-person instruction and remote learning, Cohen said there is a chance for more spread if students and schools don’t follow health guidelines.

“Our progress is fragile,” Cohen said. “It’s going to take continuous work to make sure our trends continue in the right direction. I see a challenge in front of us as schools go back into session. We know more people will be moving around and we know the virus will be moving around.”

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