North Carolina is ramping up its coronavirus testing capacity, completing over 8,000 almost every day since May 13.
The state has completed a total of 290,645 tests as of May 21, according to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services.
In a May 20 briefing, Gov. Roy Cooper and Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen said this increase in testing was a crucial part of the decision to move into Phase 2 of Cooper's coronavirus recovery plan, starting at 5 p.m. on May 22.
In the briefing, Cohen said the state is looking to continue increasing capacity through Phase 2.
“We’re working with counties as well as partners from the private sector to continue to expand access to testing across the whole state,” Cohen said in the briefing.
To meet the need for increased testing, UNC Health Care, which includes locations like UNC Medical Center and UNC Health affiliate hospitals, uses three types of tests that all show results in less than 24 hours.
Melissa Miller, a professor at the UNC School of Medicine and the director of the clinical microbiology and molecular microbiology labs for UNC, led the development of one of the tests. She said diversifying the types of coronavirus tests available stabilizes the supply chain, which experienced instability early in the pandemic.
“We do not normally have many tests for one virus, but this is because of the demand for more and more testing, and that we couldn't rely on just one system to be able to get enough tests,” Miller said.
As of May 19, the average number of tests conducted by UNC Health system was around 450 for the past seven days — approximately 28 percent growth compared to the week before, Miller said.