Health leaders discuss COVID-19 trends in New Hanover County

The peak of the Omicron variant surge was met with a shortage of COVID-19 testing supplies.
Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 8:47 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The positivity rate for COVID-19 tests in all five southeastern North Carolina counties is higher than the state average of 30.4 percent at last report.

The focus from health leaders continues to be on COVID-19 testing as we learn more about the effects of different variants of the virus.

With an increase in testing capacity, the state health department has provided Novant Health with funding to open testing clinics in New Hanover and Brunswick counties next week.

“We are scheduled to do several hundred [tests] at various sites,” said Becky Whiteside with Brunswick Medical Center. “Obviously, we are doing dozens of those depending on severity and influx of COVID and our emergency departments and this will help offload some of those that may be just asymptomatic and exposed testing for additional resources and availability.”

The peak of the Omicron variant surge was met with a shortage of COVID-19 testing supplies. New Hanover County Pandemic Operations Manager Jonathan Campbell says testing capacity has increased.

“Thankfully, it does seem like testing has expanded,” Campbell said. “There was a major backlog of testing supplies being delivered. The state was able to reach out to a couple more vendors and secure those and that did allocate some additional resources.”

Novant Health hopes testing clinics will be convenient for residents. Access to testing is something Campbell says is crucial to putting an end to the pandemic once and for all.

“We also received some testing ourselves that were able to distribute directly to the community,” Campbell said. “So. I think testing is becoming increased ease of access which is a good thing.”

At a meeting Friday of the New Hanover County Health and Human Services Board rata review subcommittee, HHS Director Donna Fayko said the county has 41 active outbreaks, with several of them coming from UNC Wilmington.

“I think with any outbreak, you need to take a look at it closely,” Campbell said. “Any outbreaks or areas of concern we really need to do what we can to mask up, vaccinate, boost, wash our hands, and stay home if we’re not feeling well.”

Board members also discussed the possibility of disbanding the data review subcommittee to allow the county’s pandemic operations team to gather data to present to the board.

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