Statewide drop in percent of positive COVID-19 tests a “very positive sign”

ON THE DECLINE: North Carolina is the only Southeastern state with less than 5% of COVID-19 tests returning positive. Screen grab courtesy of Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

North Carolina’s COVID-19 metrics continue to move in the right direction, said Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state’s secretary of health and human services at a Sept. 15 press conference. While it’s still too soon to know how the statewide move to Phase 2.5 or the Labor Day holiday weekend impacted the coronavirus’ spread, Cohen pointed to declines in the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests as a “very positive sign.” 

According to data from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, the rate of positive COVID-19 tests has hovered around 5% since Sept. 9, down from a peak of 7.7% on Aug. 31. In Buncombe County the positivity rate is even lower, at 2.5%. 

In May, the World Health Organization recommended the percent of positive tests should fall at or below 5% for at least 14 days before governments begin reopening. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also cite a 5% positivity rate as the threshold communities should meet before reopening schools for in-person learning. 

According to data collected by the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, 25 states currently fall below the 5% positivity threshold; the same dataset shows North Carolina as the only Southeastern state to meet this metric. 

“We are making progress, and I’m proud of the work North Carolina has done,” Cohen said. “We are truly a standout in the South.” 

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About Molly Horak
Molly is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and writer for Mountain Xpress. Her work has appeared in the Citizen-Times, News and Observer and Charlotte Observer. Follow me @molly_horak

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