NC health officials break down COVID-19 hospital figures by region

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Nearly 30 percent of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in North Carolina are in facilities in the 13-county region that includes Charlotte.

The state Department of Health and Human Services has begun breaking down its statewide daily hospitalization figures into eight regions, creating a more detailed picture of the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on North Carolina’s health care facilities.

The three primary counties of the Triangle — Wake, Durham and Orange — are split into three separate groups, and most of the CBS 17 viewing area falls into one of those regions.

“The more we get to localized numbers for these indicators … the better,” Pia MacDonald, an epidemiologist at RTI International, told CBS 17 News on Monday, also calling it “a step in the right direction, for sure.”

One obvious issue with them: Not all of the counties in DHHS’ regions are adjacent, making it difficult to draw many geography-based conclusions.

For example, the counties in the Orange County-anchored Mid Carolina Regional Preparedness Coalition includes an outlier — Warren County, with its three neighboring counties placed in three different regions. 

And the Duke Healthcare Preparedness Coalition has Durham County along with four northern counties — and Robeson County along the South Carolina border.

“It’s a little complicated in how those regions are formulated because they’re not always contiguous,” MacDonald said. “So that makes interpretation a bit more difficult.”

The state reported 1,086 hospitalized COVID-19 patients Monday, the third consecutive day that number has fallen since the single-day high of 1,178 was set Friday.

DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen has said one of the agency’s concerns was a growing number of hospitalized patients in the Charlotte area, and that appears evident in the new set of numbers.

Of that statewide total, 317 were in facilities in the Metrolina Healthcare Preparedness Coalition — a cluster of counties centered around Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

The data also illustrate some localized trends in hospitalizations that perhaps were obscured by the statewide numbers.

For example, the Wake County-centered group of counties — which also includes Lee, Harnett, Johnston and Franklin — had 87 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, a drop of 24 from Saturday, its fewest since there were also 87 on June 28.

The Orange County group — which also includes Cumberland and Sampson counties — had 123 hospitalizations, a relatively steady reduction both over the past three days and since its maximum of 147 on July 12.

Meanwhile, the group with Durham County is experiencing some of its highest volumes of patients with at least 124 in each of the past four days, including a maximum of 129 on Friday. 

Perhaps illustrating just how quickly COVID-19 outbreaks can happen, that single-day high came just five days after its low of 95.

And in a sign of how difficult the disease can be to detect in a presymptomatic person, the Duke Healthcare coalition reported no suspected COVID-19 patients over a 24-hour span — but admitted 11 patients with COVID-19 during that same time frame.

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