But before that can happen, the state needs to meet certain benchmarks, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said.
Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days
First, Cohen explained that the number of COVID-like syndromic cases has been decreasing for the past 14 days.
Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory of Lab-Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days
However, the number of laboratory-confirmed cases is still increasing, albeit more slowly than at the start of the outbreak.
"We want to see a decrease or a sustained leveling of cases," Cohen said, explaining that there may not be a peak of cases in North Carolina, but the number of cases reported daily may level out, and that sustained leveling would allow North Carolina to begin to reopen.
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Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days
Additionally, Cohen said the percentage of positive tests has been leveling, if not decreasing slightly, but health officials would like to see that number decrease significantly over the next 14 days.
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"A lot of positive signs, but we're not there yet," Cohen said.
Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days
Cohen also said the number of people in the hospital has stayed relatively level since the start of the outbreak.
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"We would love to see this trend downward, but leveling is a good sign," Cohen said. "We know we aren't seeing an upward trend in hospitalizations."
In addition to those metrics, the state will continue building capacity to be able to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread. These include:
Increase in Laboratory Testing
Currently, North Carolina is testing approximately 2,500 to 3,000 people per day and is working to increase to at least 5,000 to 7,000 per day.
Increase in Tracing Capability
Currently, North Carolina has approximately 250 people doing contact tracing across its local health departments and is working to double this workforce to 500.
Availability of Personal Protective Equipment
The state is working to ensure there are adequate supplies to fulfill requests for critical PPE for at least 30 days. This includes face shields, gloves, gowns, N95 masks, and surgical and procedural masks. Currently the state has less than 30 days supply of gowns and N95 masks. Availability of PPE is calculated based on the average number of requests for the last 14 days compared to the supply that the state has on hand.
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