On April 3, I wrote about the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing, quarantine, and other important information related to our Community. The information was provided by Craven County Manager, Jack Veit. In the article, I included an Internal Memo by the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) that outlined guidelines to Clinicians and Laboratories on March 29. confirmed that the NCDHHS Guidance has not changed. According to the State’s guidance, you will not be tested if you are sick and your healthcare provider determines that you have a mild illness that does not progress. Note: This does not apply to patients in non-congregate settings.
On April 21, Amber Parker, Human Resources Director, Craven County Human Resources, told us, “The Craven County COVID-19 Task Force is made up of Craven County departments and partners. It includes: Craven County Manager, Craven County Assistant County Manager, Craven County Human Resources Director and Public Information Officer, Economic Development, Water Department, Senior Services, Finance, Health Department, Sheriff’s Office, Jail, CARTS, Department of Social Services, Craven County Schools, Emergency Management, Information Technology, and Maintenance”.
We asked if tested were being performed locally and she responded, “Tests are collected at local medical offices. The tests are then sent to various labs to be analyzed. The labs include the NC State Lab of Public Health, commercial, and private labs. Turnaround time is from 2-5 days, depending on the lab being used”.
We asked how many people have been tested for COVID-19 and she replied, “Due to the number of medical offices that collect tests and the fact that the number is constantly changing, we are not able to give an accurate number of people that have been tested. Medical offices are not required to report that they have tested someone; they are only required to report if positive test results are received”.
On April 20, Craven County’s total positive cases were 33 and there were three deaths. As of April 23, the total count of people who have tested positive in Craven County is 36 and four people have died. I asked about presumptive positive cases and Ms. Parker clarified, “Early during testing when the NC State Lab of Public Health had a positive test result it was referred to as “presumptive” until the positive was confirmed by the CDC. That is no longer the case, any positive confirmed by a lab is positive”.
When asked how many people have symptoms, but have not been physically examined and were advised to self-quarantine? Ms. Parker replied, “There is no way to give a numerical value to this question. Anytime a patient presents to a medical provider’s office and the provider feels they may have COVID-19 but do not meet the requirements to be tested, that provider should recommend they go home and quarantine until 72 after symptoms have subsided. It should be noted there are many people that will never even go to the doctor’s office”.
She defined self-isolation procedures, “Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Anyone that is confirmed positive of COVID-19 is required to isolate and is followed by the Craven County Health Department Communicable Disease Team. This team will make daily phone calls to check in on the patients to ensure that they are following isolation orders. According to G.S. 130A-25(a) if a patient does not comply then they can be criminally prosecuted for violating the orders”.
Ms. Parker confirmed that they are conducting contact tracing for every confirmed positive case in Craven County.
She assured us that they have an adequate supply of PPE, they do not need donations or volunteers at this time.
We also reached out to CarolinaEast Health System on April 17. We asked if tests were available at CarolinaEast and Jim Davis, the Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Nursing responded, “Not at this time”. They are sending the tests to The state lab or LabCorp based on guidance from the State Health Department and told us that the turnaround time was currently about 48 hours”.
When asked what are the total number of people that you have tested for COVID-19? Mr. Davis replied, “Over 250” and 20 have tested positive and there were two positive deaths. That was on April 17.
When asked how many people have you sent home or advised to stay home without seeing them via telemedicine to self-quarantine, he responded, “Unknown”.
I also asked how many ICU beds were at CarolinaEast and he replied, “23, but it’s an ever-changing number”.
When asked about triaging possible asymptomatic patients, he replied, “All patients are screened in a tent outside the ED and symptomatic patients are separated to another area. Everyone entering the building must wear a mask, which will help prevent transmission from asymptomatic carriers”.
We asked about N95 masks and PPE and Mr. Davis responded, “We have sufficient today, with reprocessing. We are conserving to prevent running out”.
We asked what Department’s staff members are wearing the donated cloth masks and he replied, “Staff in non-clinical and non-patient facing positions as well as patients entering the facility for procedures”.
John Hopkins University COVID-19 Case Tracker website provided detailed data about COVID-19 cases in the US and abroad. They also break down important statistics. The statistics are based on confirmed cases based on testing. As of 11 a.m. on April 23, the US has performed 4,466,559 tests and NC has performed 90,336 tests. These numbers do not reflect the number of people who were tested as some people may be tested numerous times. I only say this to put things into perspective as there are over 340,000,000 people living in the US. Do you believe the testing is adequate?
Craven County Health Department, CarolinaEast Health System, and your healthcare providers are following testing requirements set by the NCDHHS. We really appreciate all that our local healthcare professionals and ancillary services are doing to keep our community safe. Please be patient as they are putting their lives on the line to protect ours.
I hope this information is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions by sending an email.
Wishing you well.