How likely is it that you get coronavirus from an asymptomatic person?

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Thursday, June 11, 2020
Dr. Betsey Tilson answers COVID-19 questions
How likely is it that you get coronavirus from an asymptomatic person? We asked Dr. Betsey Tilson, the state health director.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As the World Health Organization scrambles to explain seemingly contradictory comments it has made about symptomatic vs. asymptomatic novel coronavirus spread, we asked Dr. Betsey Tilson, the state health director, a few questions about virus transmission and where we stand in North Carolina with testing and PPE.

A partial transcript follows. Watch the video in the media player above for her full responses.

How likely is it that you get the virus from an asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic person?

So, we're continuing to learn more and more about this virus every day ... and the state will look at that research and data, but the data and the research that we have now is that you're most likely to be most contagious when you have symptoms. So, when you're coughing and you're sneezing and you're sick, that seems to be a time when you are most contagious, and you can easily spread the virus. However, there is substantial research and data to show that you can transmit the virus when you don't have symptoms ... we know that you can spread the virus at least two days before you have symptoms, but there's also data that you may never have symptoms or very, very mild symptoms that you don't even notice and still are able to transmit the virus.

ALSO SEE: Tracking North Carolina COVID-19 cases

Is North Carolina tracking asymptomatic cases? And if so, how are we doing that?

What we get is lab-confirmed cases, so we know if your test was positive, but we, in our data right now, we're not able to differentiate if you're asymptomatic ...

We're seeing a big spike this week. Does it appear that we are reaching our peak?

We were very successful in flattening that curve. We really had a lot of aggressive measures we put upfront, so we never saw that big peak. But, right, we are seeing increased cases. As we were easing restrictions, people are out and about, the more the virus is spreading; we are seeing those cases go up. Now, some of it may be that our testing has gone way up. We've tripled our amount of testing in the past month, and the more you do tests, the more you're going to find those lab-confirmed cases ... so, we're worried about those cases going up. I don't know if we're at a peak ... nobody wants to go back to having more stringent restrictions and so again, this is the really important piece - if we're not going to have that urgent stay-at-home if we're going to ease restrictions, and we know there's a chance of spread ... wearing that face covering is extremely important.

Are you concerned at all about our PPE supplies and our testing supplies?

We have worked incredibly hard in trying to get all the resources that we need for testing ... we have pulled every resource, federal as well as other ways in terms of PPE and testing supplies. We are continuing to work on that, we are, at this point, not concerned about supplies, but we are working hard to be sure that we have supplies.


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