Cone Health reports increase testing demand as COVID cases go up: ‘We’ve seen demand double’


(WGHP) — As state health leaders warn of a possible surge in omicron variant cases in the next few weeks, some hospital systems already report a spike in COVID testing demand. 

“I think we could see as many as 10,000 cases a day at the peak. It’s that infectious,” North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said Monday. 

State health leaders are expecting a record number of cases as intensive care units across the state are already at 81% capacity. 

Dr. Cohen urged people to get tested ahead of any holiday gatherings and recommended testing one or two days before travel. 

“We’ve seen demand double what it was last Monday…about 50% of our appointments were booked today compared to about 10% were booked,” said David Thompson, assistant director of infectious diseases at Cone Health.  

He said people experiencing symptoms are getting tested alongside asymptomatic patients taking a test as a precaution. 

“We have seen the positivity rate go up slightly to about 12%. We were testing I think about 10. We are seeing more people in the hospital admitted from what we were a couple of weeks ago,” Thompson said. 

He said they have enough supply should demand surge. One of the state’s priorities announced Monday is expanding access to testing, including at-home options 

“(There’s) no change in approach. It’s still where is most convenient where you can get to first, whether that’s an at-home test or a CVS or a pharmacy or one of our facilities,” Thompson said. 

FOX8 spoke with several people downsizing their holiday plans over COVID concerns. Some plan to gather only with immediate family and say testing helps them feel more comfortable doing so. 

“We both work in facilities, so we do test, and we do take precautions: try to stay six feet,” Angela Walker said. 

Despite being fully vaccinated, Denise Warren plans to stay home this Christmas. 

“I know people can still be a carrier, so that’s why I don’t want to go nowhere,” she said. 

A Novant spokesperson issued the following statement about COVID testing: 

“For the past few weeks we have been screening around 150 patients a day at the Novant Health Screening Center – Hanes location. This is a higher number than we were seeing before the Thanksgiving holiday. The site has been busier today and we anticipate an increase in testing demand in the upcoming weeks. We encourage our community to be vaccinated and to receive a booster when eligible. The Hanes location is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. We ask that patients schedule an appointment.” 

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