Rowan County confirms sixth COVID-19 case; Novant opens screening center

Published 5:22 pm Tuesday, March 24, 2020

By Shavonne Potts

SALISBURY — The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Rowan County reached six on Tuesday as Novant Health opened a drive-thru screening site.

No other details have been released regarding those recent cases, which totaled zero one week ago. And the county has declined to provide further information when asked. The Rowan County Public Health Department says it will release additional case numbers at the close of each day via the county’s website.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, which manages the delivery of health and human services, has also maintained regular updates via its website. The site is updated regularly by 11 a.m. with a county map indicating the number of positive cases. According to NC DHHS, there have been at least 398 confirmed cases in North Carolina. There have been no deaths and 8,502 tests completed.

The number of positive cases reflects results from all tests, including those from the NC State Laboratory of Public Health and all hospital and commercial labs. The number of tests reflects testing completed by the NC State Laboratory of Public Health and reporting hospital and commercial laboratories.

Also on Tuesday, Novant Health began operating a drive-thru screening site at 315 Mocksville Ave. The site will open on Tuesday and will operate 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

It allows people to be evaluated and swabbed for COVID-19 from their vehicles. Samples taken are sent to be tested at LabCorp, the hospital’s primary lab partner, and patients must then await their results, which have proven to take several days.

“We expect turnaround time will improve significantly in the coming days,” Novant Health spokeswoman Megan Rivers said.

Labcorp, headquartered in Burlington, provides specialty testing services throughout the U.S. The company announced on Monday it was exploring all options to prioritize COVID-19 testing for the hospital inpatient population who are being treated for what the physician suspects may be the COVID-19 virus.

“LabCorp colleagues around the world are working tirelessly alongside our industry partners and governmental and health authorities to increase testing and capacity,”  said Adam Schechter, president and CEO of LabCorp. “We are aligned with the administration’s guidance and are actively encouraging all healthcare providers to follow the guidance to prioritize testing for patients who are hospitalized and being treated for suspected COVID-19. We are exploring all options to make this happen and will continue to do all we can to help fight this unprecedented health crisis.”

Rivers said people who have cough, fever and shortness of breath and have tested negative for the flu or have been in contact with someone who tested positive within the last 14 days should be screened. During a screening, a provider will determine whether a person meets certain criteria outlined by the CDC for further evaluation, which could include sample collection and testing, she said.

“We know there’s a lot of uncertainty in our communities, and some people are asking to be tested, but if you do not currently meet the guidelines, then you should not come to a medical facility looking for a screening or testing,” Rivers said.

Anyone who unnecessarily arrives at the screening drive-thru, “will only further your risk of exposure and also put a strain on resources that we need to reserve for those who need it,” she said.

If someone believes they are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, they are first encouraged to call their provider or the Novant Health 24/7 coronavirus helpline at 1-877-9Novant, to determine if and where to be screened. The hospital’s online assessment tool will also help determine what screening options are available.