NC surpasses 204,000 cases, includes antigen results
North Carolina suddenly surpassed 204,000 coronavirus cases Friday, almost seven months since the first coronavirus case was reported in March.
But the spike in cases since Thursday — when 198,189 were reported — is attributed to new testing data now being reported by the state Department of Health and Human Services. On Friday, the health department decided to add cases and deaths diagnosed via antigen tests and the number of antigen tests completed.
With the new data, the state has recorded 204,331 cases and 3,409 deaths. The spike of more than 6,140 cases reflects a one-time addition of new information as the state backfills data through May 20, when the first antigen positive case was reported, a DHHS spokesperson said.
An antigen test is a rapid test that looks for proteins on the surface of the virus and can be processed at a doctor’s office or what’s called a “point of care.” The molecular, or PCR test — the only test DHHS had been reporting up until Friday — looks for the virus’ genetic material, and is processed in a lab.
Antigen positive cases make up 2% of cases and .7% of deaths in North Carolina so far, DHHS said.
The state said it is adding the new information to comply with updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a news release. Thirtyone states also report antigen-positive cases, DHHS said.
“NCDHHS is adding these data to the NC COVID-19 data dashboards to ensure it is providing the most complete picture of COVID19 cases in North Carolina,” according to a factsheet provided by DHHS.
The reporting process for antigen testing has improved, according to the DHHS statement, explaining why it has been limited until now, DHHS said in a release.
On Friday, the state reported that 199,768 of the total cases were diagnosed by molecular testing and 4,563 were diagnosed by antigen testing.
Out of the deaths reported by the state, 3,384 were diagnosed by molecular testing and 25 were diagnosed by antigen testing.
If a person has had multiple positive tests, regardless of the type of test, the person is only counted once, DHHS said.
While the data may be new to the state’s dashboard, DHHS said local and state health departments have followed up on all cases diagnosed through the antigen testing process.
DHHS advises that all testing data is preliminary and can be updated as information is updated.
REACHING A MILESTONE
It took about four and half months for North Carolina to reach 100,000 cases but just over two months to reach 200,000.
The one-day total of molecular, or PCR, tests on Friday is 1,579 cases. Deaths now total 3,384, an increase of 53 from Thursday.
The state has completed more than 2.9 million tests with a positive test rate of 5.2%.
Levels of 5% positive and lower for 14 days are an indication that there’s enough testing in a state to control viral spread,
The New York Times reported.
Positive tests have hovered around 5% for the last 14 days, but have exceeded 5% by at least a small amount on six of those days. This does not include antigen tests, DHHS said, though it could in the future.
Phase 2.5 of reopening is set to expire Oct. 2. Gov. Roy Cooper has said he will announce early next week about the status of the state’s coronavirusrelated restrictions.
The state reports 903 people hospitalized, with 93% of hospitals reporting.
More information about antigen testing can be found on the DHHS website.