RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — There have been 101,046 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina, according to data released Monday from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.
While health officials attribute that rise in part to increased testing, they are still concerned as the virus continues to spread.
“It’s saddening. When I was diagnosed I think I was about the 300th case in North Carolina,” said Zack Kaplan.
Kaplan recovered from COVID-19 after testing positive in March. He’s still unsure how get got the virus, but believes it was through community spread.
He’s disappointed to see the case count continue to rise. He says despite what’s known about how COVID-19 spreads, people are still not doing enough to stop it.
“It’s important you don’t wait until you have the virus, or someone you know or loves has the virus, to take this seriously,” he said.
Wake County epidemiologist Dr. Nicole Mushonga says the increase is partly due to more people getting tested, as well as more people going out into the community.
“This virus is real, and we have to take it seriously. Really being preventive in our interactions; wearing a mask, keeping our distance, washing our hands. That is so imperative so we can really start to see the trend of cases go downward and not increase,” she said.
Wake County will continue to offer free COVID-19 testing this week.
Dr. Mushonga said testing not only makes people aware of their own status but helps health officials track the virus’s spread through contact tracing.
She says people will be notified if they came in close contact for a prolonged period of time with a COVID-19 positive person.
“When a positive person is identified and they are able to identify all their contact, we can say to those contacts ‘it’s best you quarantine for 14 days.’ That really allows us to stop the spread right there,” she said.
Testing and tracing will also give health officials a better idea of who is being most affected by COVID-19 and how it spreads, according to Dr. Mushonga.
“There’s so much to learn, and so much to understand as we continue through this progress of the virus and see the impact on the community,” she said.
Kaplan feels taking accountability as a community will also help slow the spread of COVID-19. He says his symptoms were mild but recognizes that is not the case for everyone who contracts the virus.
“What we see now with a pandemic, when you roll the dice on your own health you’re inherently rolling the dice on other people,” he said.