MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris announced a new 30-day COVID-19 testing strategy for the county on Thursday ahead of the state entering Phase One of Gov. Cooper’s plan to slowly reopen.
The new aggressive style will include testing five percent of the county’s population. This will be in addition to the 3.2 percent that have already been tested throughout the county.
According to Harris, the county has conducted more than 36,000 tests since the beginning of the pandemic.
The new testing strategy will include testing 13,000 residents per week over the next 30 days which will mean approximately 1,850 tests per day. The area hospital systems have implemented this for the past two days.
The goal is to track infections then isolate the infected and quarantine those that are exposed.
Two hospitals will help with this goal, as well as other organizations, community centers, urgent care centers and more, according to Harris.
According to health officials, testing will be provided based on three groups or priority:
- Group One: Individuals with moderate to severe symptoms, residents 65 years and older, or those with underlying health issues who are showing symptoms, individuals residing in congregate facilities, healthcare workers and first responders.
- Group Two: Individuals with mild symptoms, which include children, people with known medium to high risk exposure and those undergoing medical procedures.
- Group Three: People who are asymptomatic and those that are referred by a health care official. This will be implemented two weeks after initiating phase two.
With increased testing, we’ll get an increase in positives, Harris said, but the county doesn’t want to see an increase in hospitalizations or deaths.
In fact, one of the long term facilities no longer has an outbreak, according to Harris. She did not name the facility.
Mecklenburg County has started to see either a stabilization of decline in deaths, the county’s positivity rate and hospitalizations, Harris added.
The strategy was presented after a reported total of 1,932 positive coronavirus cases and 59 related deaths as of May 7th.
Mecklenburg County remains the county with the most cases in the state. As of May 7, North Carolina reported 13,397 positive COVID-19 cases.
Harris said the following about reopening:
“People have been cooped up for a long time and it’s very easy for people to see the restrictions loosening and think that it’s back to what was normal before. I’m not sure at what point we’ll be back to what was normal before.”