Ask Us: When are coronavirus cases considered recovered?

Published 3:19 am Monday, November 9, 2020

Editor’s note: Ask Us is a weekly feature published online Mondays and in print on Tuesdays. We’ll seek to answer your questions about items or trends in Rowan County. Have a question? Email it to

Since late March, when the first case of COVID-19 was found in Rowan County, there have been nearly 3,800 people the Health Department considered recovered from the coronavirus.

But one reader asked about the meaning of the word “recovered.” What’s the criteria to be considered recovered? Are all cases resolved? And do numbers on the follow-up list that appears on the county’s data hub represent patients who have never been moved to another statistical category?

For someone to be considered recovered by the Health Department, says Rowan County spokesman TJ Brown, three criteria must be met. It must be 10 days since symptoms first appeared, 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medicine and other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving, Brown said. Loss of taste or smell can persist for weeks or months after recovery, but that shouldn’t prevent someone from leaving isolation, he said.

At some point, every patient’s case will move from follow-up to another status. The final two resolutions are either deceased or recovered, Brown said.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services estimates a median time to recovery of 14 days from specimen collection for non-fatal cases who are not hospitalized or if the person’s hospitalization status is not known. For those who become hospitalized, the median recovery time is 28 days, according to N.C. DHHS. But an individual person could require a longer or shorter recovery time based on their specific circumstances.

To date, there are 261,719 people across North Carolina who have recovered from COVID-19, according to state data.

IHOP plans to reopen; Jimmy John’s future unclear

Readers have also asked about two local restaurants.

The IHOP restaurant, at 105 Faith Road in Salisbury, has been closed for months. The restaurant, however, plans to reopen soon, a spokesperson for the breakfast food chain told the Post. No specific date was provided.

“This location was temporarily closed and is anticipated to reopen soon. Our franchisee looks forward to welcoming guests back,” the IHOP spokesperson said.

Information about IHOP’s safety-first approach can be found at

A Jimmy John’s in Salisbury meanwhile remains closed with no clear plans to reopen.

The restaurant shuttered during the depths of COVID-19 shutdowns earlier this year and has not reopened. It no longer appears on the list of restaurants in North Carolina. The chain didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment over a period of several months.