As North Carolina continues to prepare for the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, the NC State Laboratory of Public Health (NCSLPH) within the NC Department of Health and Human Services is now able to perform testing for the virus. This new capability allows North Carolina to more quickly take public health steps to respond to any positive test result.
"Testing is already underway in our state lab and that means we get results faster," said Governor Roy Cooper. "Our public health leaders have been working around the clock to ensure that we are prepared."
Currently, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina. [Update at 3:30 p.m. on March 3: A North Carolina person has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The test, conducted by the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health, is presumptively positive and will be confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab. The person is doing well and is in isolation at home.]
Testing at NCSLPH will continue to be coordinated through the Division of Public Health’s Communicable Disease Branch on specimens from individuals who meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s criteria for a person under investigation for COVID-19. North Carolina is using the CDC developed test kit that was granted under an Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
Per FDA requirements, test results from NCSLPH and other state labs require confirmation from the CDC. However, a presumptive positive from NCSLPH will initiate an immediate public health response from NCDHHS, NC Emergency Management and the appropriate local health department and hospital while CDC confirmation is pending.
Commercial and private labs may quickly follow in their ability to perform testing for COVID-19, according to the CDC. Because COVID-19 is a reportable disease in North Carolina, all health care providers and labs are required to inform NCDHHS of testing for the virus so the appropriate public health response can be coordinated for a positive test.
The CDC has indicated that Americans should be anticipating and preparing for the possibility of widespread COVID-19 in the United States. Since late January, NCDHHS and NC Emergency Management have been operating a team to coordinate efforts around the state’s response. In early February, Governor Cooper formalized this effort with the creation of the COVID-19 Task Force.
NCDHHS and NCEM are working closely with local health departments, health care providers and others to quickly identify and respond to any potential isolated cases that might occur in the state and prepare North Carolinians to be ready in the event of more widespread, national COVID-19 transmission. The task force is developing response plans that address a range of possible scenarios. NCDHHS continues to host regular calls with local health providers and partners, develop and disseminate information and guidance and respond to questions from providers and communities.
Current and up-to-date information including specific guidance for businesses, education and health care providers can be found here:
- Press Release: Governor’s Task Force Encourages North Carolinians to Increase Preparedness Measures for COVID-19
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Response in North Carolina
- CDC COVID-19 website
- North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health Novel Coronavirus Guidance
If you have questions or concerns, call the COVID-19 Helpline toll free at 1-866-462-3821. To submit questions online, go to www.ncpoisoncontrol.org and select “chat.”