19 people test for coronavirus in NC; Gov. Cooper pleads for supplies promised by federal government

Coronavirus
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Governor Roy Cooper says North Carolina is in desperate need for more supplies promised by the federal government to test for COVID-19.

In one week two North Carolinians presumptively tested positive for novel coronavirus, and state health officials say they expect more positive cases in the coming weeks.

According to state health officials, 19 people have been tested for coronavirus in North Carolina.

“We know that it’s important to get people tested. North Carolina and other states need more tests kits from the CDC,” Cooper said Friday.

Cooper said he spoke with Vice President Mike Pence, as well as federal health officials urging them to send more supplies.

Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mandy Cohen, said state health officials have been preparing proactively since January for cases of the novel coronavirus. However, the plan was largely based on assurances the CDC would provide testing supplies.

Cohen says the state lab has already tested people for the disease, in addition to the two presumptive positive cases this week. She says the lab currently has enough supplies to test 150 people.

“We know that we’re going to need more and we’re sort of raising the alarm now to make sure we’re getting what we need from our federal partners,” Cohen said.

According to Cohen, new guidelines from the CDC on who should be tested for COVID-19 has lead to an increased need for testing.

Cohen says the state has gone direct to the CDC’s supply manager for the testing kits. That company agreed to provided resources to test an additional 500 people. Cohen says those supplies are still en route to North Carolina.

“I expect to see more positive cases here as we work through this, but testing is an important component to know if people have it and the work to try to contain it,” she said.

According to Cohen, state health officials also reached out to LabCorp which has testing supplies. Cohen said although the company is based in Burlington, it will be supplying testing resources around the country.

The LabCorp tests have a three-to-four day turn around for results, whereas the state lab takes 24 hours according to Cohen.

“LabCorp began testing COVID-19 samples yesterday and are ramping up their capacity over the next several weeks. They will be testing patients from all over the country. Labcorp will use their own test so they won’t be limited by the CDC supply issues.  This will eventually help with some of the volume, but it will take time to ramp up. As of today, we’ve tested and gotten results for 19 people,” said Kelly Haight, NCDHHS communications manager.

Cohen said this week the state also signed agreements with UNC and Duke, which will begin administering tests for COVID-19 next week.

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