Will Cooper Close As Cases Surge?

RALEIGH – Governor Roy Cooper has scheduled another press conference at 2:00 PM for a special COVID update after ‘cases surged’ over the weekend. More than 4,500 tests came back positive on Sunday, on the heels of Cooper’s ‘strong recommendations’ regarding local enforcement of and compliance with executive orders.

Now, with Pandemic Panic: Holiday Edition in full swing, the rise in cases around the country and hear in North Carolina is likely too much for Cooper to resist. A special press conference on COVID, after the weekend headlines of ‘record cases,’ doesn’t portend an easing of restrictions.

From CBS17 (emphasis added):

NC health experts worry high COVID-19 cases could extend into December holidays

North Carolina reached a grim COVID-19 milestone days before Thanksgiving.

More than 4,500 new cases of the disease were reported in North Carolina Sunday — a new single-day record. 

More COVID-19 testing sites have been established around the Triangle to meet the increasing demand before the holidays. 

But one had to close after it was swamped with demand Saturday. The COVID-19 testing site at Wake Toxicology Lab in Cary closed early because they ran out of supplies.

Gov. Roy Cooper has a news conference planned for 2 p.m. Monday where he could announce additional restrictrictions.

“We don’t see the surge going down anytime soon. I think it’s going to go through December based on models. However, part of that is us just being prepared to address and accommodate the needs of the citizens,” said Eugene Chalwe, Wake County COVID-19 operations manager. […]”

Everyday there is a new headline, reporting a ‘new record.’ Sunday it was the daily cases record; but what of the often mentioned ‘positivity rate’? Health officials have been concerned because this rate had popped above the 5% level toward 8-9% in recent weeks.

So, while a ‘new record’ in daily cases was set, does it show a higher percentage of positive tests like those the health officials had voiced concern about? Probably not.

As highlighted above, testing sites are extra busy because every talking head on TV is telling everyone watching to get tested before the holidays — and guess what? — people are getting tested. A lot of people.

You can see the rising number of tests, especially over the last week, to the highest levels in over month (not including this weekend) in this chart from NCDHHS:


More people are getting tested heading into the holidays; that is clear. So has the positivity rate kept pace? Not really.

Actually, after peaking at 9.4% on Nov.16, it’s been falling. Now around 7%:

Again, this does not include Sunday, the day of record new cases, but we’d be willing to guess it has more to do with the surge in people getting tested before the holidays than an exaggerated surge in the virus.

It’s where the percent positive rates are increasing that the virus is spreading the most. Here is a snap short of the positivity rate for different areas of the state, with hotspots darker in color.

Notice that the population centers, around the Triangle, Triad, and Charlotte, are relatively light. Which makes sense, as those were the areas that suffered more in the spring and summer.

Even so, the ‘record number of daily cases’ is probably enough to push Cooper over some kind of edge. After all, he has to get on board with his liberal cohorts in California and New York, and all of them are shutting down again.

Exactly what he has in store by way of lockdown edicts, we’ll find out at 2:00 PM.

You can learn more about the trends at NCDHHS COVID Dashboard.

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