NC hospitalizations dip for second straight day; percent positive remains steady

COVID-19 in the Carolinas: July 31 update

The number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in North Carolina dropped for the second day in a row to 1,229 with 91% of hospitals reporting.

Currently, across the state, 520 Intensive Care Unit beds are available and 5,006 inpatient beds are available.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,954 new COVID-19 cases and 21 new deaths on Friday.

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The percent of positive tests remains steady at 8%.

>> Have questions about the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the Carolinas? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the outbreak -- CLICK HERE FOR MORE.

Note: The numbers we show you every day mean everything in how our community recovers from coronavirus -- both in terms of healthcare and the economy -- but they don’t mean much without the proper context and as much transparency as possible.

New cases vary day by day based on a lot of factors. That can include how long it takes to get results back, so a new case reported today can really be several days old.

The other big metric we watch is the percent of positive cases. This is data we can only get from the state because it’s not as simple as factoring a percent of new cases each day from the number of tests. That’s because test results take days and come from a variety of places.

What about closer to home?

As of Friday morning, there were 20,239 cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) with 202 deaths due to COVID-19 reported among Mecklenburg County residents. Data from Wednesday, July 29 are presented below.

As of July 29, 2020, there were 19,868 cases of and 201 deaths due to COVID-19 among county residents were reported to Mecklenburg County Public Health (MCPH).

Highlights about the epidemiology of COVID-19 in Mecklenburg County as of July 29, 2020 include:

  • About 3 in 4 reported cases were adults ages 20 to 59 years old.
  • About 3 in 10 reported cases are Hispanic – most of whom are younger adults. The high number of reported cases among young Hispanics remains a significant concern. As previously noted, some factors influencing this trend include:
  • Targeted testing occurring in neighborhoods with lower access to care, some of which have larger Hispanic populations;
  • Higher proportions of Hispanics working in essential jobs that make social distancing difficult;
  • Significant household spread among large families; and
  • Pre-existing disparities in other social and economic determinants of health, like poverty.

MCPH continues to expand outreach to Hispanic members of our community, including increased dissemination of the outreach toolkit in Spanish for community partners, setting up targeted outreach to Hispanic-owned and -serving businesses, and partnering with local organizations and media outlets to spread key prevention messages. 

  • About 1 in 20 reported cases were hospitalized due to their COVID-19 infection. While everyone is at risk for severe COVID-19 complications, reported cases who were older adults (≥ 60 years) were more likely to be hospitalized compared to younger individuals.
  • Nearly 3 out of 4 have met CDC criteria to be released from isolation based on MCPH confirming eligibility based on criteria for isolation release or those who are not hospitalized and no longer under monitoring due to 14 or more days passing since testing positive.
  • During the past week, an average of 197 individuals with laboratory confirmed COVID-19 infections were hospitalized at acute care facilities in Mecklenburg County. Overall this represents an increase over the last 14 days. These data are based on daily census counts from acute care facilities in Mecklenburg County reporting to MCPH.
  • During the past week, an average of 9.6 percent of individuals who were tested were positive for COVID-19. This represents a slight decrease over the last 14 days. These data only include tests conducted by Atrium Health, Novant Health, CVS Health, and Walgreens Pharmacy when available. The percent positive 14-day trend slightly declined with and without the addition of new data from Walgreens Pharmacy. Reporting of negative results to MCPH is not required or covered by communicable disease reporting laws. MCPH will include results from other providers and laboratories as accurate, consistent and timely reporting mechanisms are established.
  • Two hundred-one deaths due to COVID-19 occurred among reported cases.
  • Almost all deaths were among older adults (≥ 60 years), 3 deaths occurred in adults ages 20 to 39 and 27 deaths were adults ages 40 to 59.
  • All deaths, except three, occurred among adults with underlying chronic illnesses.
  • More than half were non-Hispanic Whites. The disparity in COVID-19 deaths among non-Hispanic Whites is related to differences in race/ethnicity of residents of long-term care (LTC) facilities actively experiencing an outbreak.
  • More than half of deaths were connected to active outbreaks at long-term care (LTC) facilities.
  • Based on publicly available mobility tracking data, social distancing slightly increased then slightly decreased in Mecklenburg County over the last 14 days. Overall, this represents a fairly stable trend over the last 14 days.

NCDHHS stresses mental health awareness amid pandemic

NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen held a news conference Thursday where she stressed the importance of mental health awareness and access to resources for anxiety, depression and substance abuse.

According to state health leaders, North Carolina hospitals are seeing an uptick in people coming into the emergency room with drug overdoses and binge drinking.

The Director of the NCDHHS Mental Health Division, Victor Armstrong, said symptoms of anxiety and depression have tripled, and North Carolina has seen a 15% increase in ER visits for opioid overdoses.

Cohen said the goals of the state’s mental health programs are to increase access, improve awareness and combat stigma.

“There are resources we can connect you with,” Cohen said. “You don’t have to go through it alone.”

Cohen and Armstrong also said that the state’s mental health crisis, much like the pandemic, is disproportionately impacting minorities.

If you or anyone you know needs mental health resources, you can call the Hope 4 NC Crisis Line (1-885-587-3463) and the Hope 4 Healers Line (919-226-2002), a line exclusively for health and child care workers.