As of March 15 at 11:00 a.m., North Carolina has 32 *known* cases of coronavirus.
14 in Wake, four in Mecklenburg, two in Forsyth, two in Harnett, two in Johnston, and one everywhere else highlighted on this map:
That means we went from seven known cases to 32 in five days.
It’s safe to say we have more than 32 *actual* cases AND that no one has any idea how many we really have.
BUT I’ve seen some moderate estimates that nationally we may have (very) roughly 15,000 cases – the bulk of which are in WA, CA, and NY.
So perhaps NC is… in the hundreds?
There are two issues with that prediction:
– The level of confidence in the underlying national prediction is low. Who knows if it’s close to 15,000.
– The current level of cases isn’t nearly as important as the rate of growth.
We could have 50 cases or 200 cases in NC right now and if we see the growth rate of 6 days/double (the emerging national trend), then the starting point doesn’t matter much.
At that rate, it could still fill all our state’s hospital beds within a matter of 8-10 weeks, depending on how long recovery takes.
And that’s assuming NC hospital beds don’t have any other patients. Right now they’re approximately 80% full. They’re trying to reduce that number but it certainly won’t get to 0%.
So the challenge is this:
Lower the rate of infection (through wider testing and social distancing) to lower the double rate to make sure we have beds for everyone who needs serious treatment.
That’s how we save the most lives.
UPDATE ON TESTING:
The state lab has tested 259 people.
The main private lab, LabCorp, reportedly has capacity for 3,000 tests per day but we have no idea how many they’ve actually done.
But don’t get lost in the numbers. Here’s what really matters:
To qualify for a test you still need to meet criteria beyond simply displaying flu-like symptoms AND you still need a doctor’s note. That limitation is what test rationing actually looks like in practice, and it’s not good.
Widespread, effective testing would look like this:
Anyone with flu-like symptoms can drive up to a screening center (maybe a tent in the parking lot of a hospital or a Wal-Mart), get a rapid flu test, and then if it comes back negative, get a coronavirus test. That’s what we need, A.S.A.P.
BUT there has been significant progress in the last two days. Full update on testing progress coming Monday.