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Testing levels in NC are dipping, but so are result turnaround times

NC DHHS Sec. Mandy Cohen said COVID-19 results are coming back in 2 to 3 days, after taking up to a week, on average, last month.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In North Carolina, new daily cases of coronavirus are trending downward. So are the percentage of positive tests and hospitalizations. 

However, there's one COVID-19 measure Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen does not want to see declining, but lately, it is.

"Testing has slowed down in recent weeks. Actually, we've seen that across the country, not just in North Carolina. We think there's a lot of factors in that," Cohen said.

NCDHHS data shows North Carolina peaked with its daily testing late last month, but since then, the average daily tests have dropped, by about 3,500 a day.

Cohen thinks some of that might be tied to folks taking time to do other things, like taking summer vacations, but tales of testing delays might be another reason.

"It was taking a really long time to get test results," Cohen said.

Last month, health officials lamented the growing turnaround times, which, at one point, were averaging about a week. Officials said the long wait for results negated the purpose of contact tracing.

During a live-streamed town hall this week with health information website Healthline, America's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci discussed the continued concerns with result times, saying some areas of the country have fixed the problem, while others were still struggling with it.

"If it's five to seven days, it almost obviates the purpose of contact tracing because that means somebody was out there for five to seven days, potentially spreading the infection. So, we are correcting that. We're trying hard, and we are correcting it in many areas," Fauci said.

Cohen said North Carolina has gotten the issue under better control and encourages people to get tested.

"Testing turnaround times are really back down--two to three days to get testing results. We're still trying to improve that," said Cohen. "We just want to make sure folks are getting tested because that is really important."

If you need a COVID-19 test, NCDHHS has a testing site locator here.

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