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When will COVID-19 peak in North Carolina?
...and when in Eastern NC?
May 9, 2020

M
ac Ernest is a retired physician. Before moving to Oriental in 2014,
mac ernest
Mac Ernest
Mac was the Chair of the Dept of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Carolinas Healthcare in Charlotte. Prior to that he was Professor of Obstetrics-Gynecology at Wake Forest medical school in Winston-Salem.

In addition to patient care and teaching, his research has included studying infectious diseases.

Mac has agreed to provide a series of columns about COVID-19.


When will COVID-19 peak in North Carolina?

Statewide, the NCDHHS reports that we continue to see an increase in hospitalizations in North Carolina due to the coronavirus and even as physical distancing is maintained.

A model that uses cell phone geolocating to measure physical distancing has a very pertinent finding for our part of the state as it compares predicted deaths per day for the state and breaks out the data for urban and rural areas.

This model predicts deaths per day for North Carolina and urban areas such as Raleigh-Cary will begin to decrease this month (assuming no change in physical distancing and other protective policies).

However, in the eastern portion of North Carolina (Fayetteville NC is the area noted in this model), deaths per day will continue to rise into the latter part of May and possibly later.

Bottom line: While the absolute numbers of infections and deaths in eastern North Carolina are small compared to urban regions of the state, they are relatively high for our population size and are likely to continue to rise before peaking later in May or into June.

As we enter Phase One of re-opening our state, we will have more opportunities for social interactions with friends and businesses. Because these interactions will also increase the potential for spread of the coronavirus, we need to remain vigilant and continue to follow the three W’s: Wash our hands, Wear a cloth facial covering when in public places, and Wait to maintain 6 feet of physical distancing.

We have already seen the effectiveness of these practices in our state, they are likely one of the reasons we maintain low case numbers and adequate hospital beds, and we should continue to practice them until eastern North Carolina’s rates are falling.

References:

https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/covid19/covid-19-nc-case-count#key-metricsis-north-carolina-slowing-the-spread--

https://covid-19.tacc.utexas.edu/projections/

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/forecasting-us.html