Tent at CVMC

North Carolina State Medical Assistance Team members set up a tent at Catawba Valley Medical Center Monday morning.

Catawba County had no new coronavirus cases as of Tuesday morning, leaving the county total at four positive COVID-19 cases, according to a county health official.

Neighboring Caldwell County announced its first case Tuesday just after 5:30. 

In Catawba County there have been 340 tests for the virus. So far, 75 tests have come back negative and four have come back positive, Catawba County Public Health Community Engagement Specialist Emily Killian said. The rest of the tests are still awaiting results.

Statewide, there are at least 450 cases, according to NC Department of Health and Human Services and county health departments.

In Caldwell County, 324 tests have been done and 32 have come back negative and there is one positive result.

Burke County has no positive cases. The county is not releasing the number of coronavirus tests that have been administered.

Alexander County has no confirmed cases of COVID-19. A total of 39 people have been tested for the virus, with 15 tests being negative. There are currently 24 pending tests, with those households under quarantine.

The state has completed at least 8,500 tests, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services website. The state lab has done 938 tests and has supplies for 1,400 more tests. The county and state are recommending those with mild symptoms stay home to limit expose and save testing supplies. State and national officials have said there is a shortage of supplies.

The shortage is in supplies used to take samples for the test, the personal protective equipment worn by medical personnel during a test and the supplies used at the labs to test the samples, Killian said.

Hospitals and most medical providers, which are doing most of the coronavirus testing in Catawba County, do not need state-supplied testing kits to take samples and test for the coronavirus, Killian said.

Most are using testing supplies of their own or supplies from private labs and universities, Killian said. The testing supplies are typically a swab and a viral transportation medium, a liquid the swab is placed in after the sample is taken. Those samples are sent to labs to be tested, and the county is notified of the results.

When the county public health department or small local providers assisted by the county do tests, they use testing kits supplied by the state. The county is not performing many tests, Killian said.

Counties statewide were sent three testing kits at a time initially, but now they can request kits any time they are needed, Killian said. Test kits include paperwork, swabs used to take a sample and a substance the sample swab is put in to transport it to the lab.

Catawba County is expecting a rise in the number of cases as more results come in and the virus spreads, Killian said. “Based on what other communities throughout North Carolina have experienced, it is reasonable to expect case numbers to increase in Catawba County,” Killian said.

Several Catawba County EMS workers are in quarantine right now after having contact with the first confirmed coronavirus case in the county, Catawba County Communications and Marketing Director Amy McCauley said. The patient was brought to Catawba Valley Medical Center for an unrelated issue by first responders. 911 dispatchers were not notified the patient had been tested for coronavirus, McCauley said. The patient’s test later came back positive. Catawba County identified employees who came in contact with the patient and they are quarantined now.

In response to the virus, the state asked hospitals to postpone non-essential surgeries if possible. This week, Catawba Valley Medical Center is decided to cancel all non-essential surgeries, procedures and diagnostic tests, Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications Matt Webber said. The move is an effort to conserve hospital resources to fight COVID-19 and to limit exposure.

On Tuesday, Mecklenburg County, where there are at least 142 cases, issued a "stay-at-home" order to go into effect Thursday morning. The order requires county residents to stay inside for 21 days except for medical treatment, buying food or exercising outside. Essential workers will be allowed to travel to work.

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