NC sur­passes 204,000 cases, in­cludes anti­gen re­sults

The Charlotte Observer - - LOCAL - BY SOPHIE KASAKOVE Sophie Kasakove: @so­phiekasako­ve

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.

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