Narrow Testing Prevents Officials From Understanding Scope Of Coronavirus Spread

Mar 20, 2020

As the Cape Fear region adjusts to Coronavirus precautions, each day brings a rise in the number of presumptive cases across the state.   But the narrow testing criteria makes it hard to measure the scope of infection in North Carolina.

Most people who contract COVID-19 have no symptoms – or very mild ones. 

"But it doesn't mean that they aren't infected and it doesn't mean that they're not shedding the virus into the environment."

And that’s part of the reason that health officials don’t really know how far it’s spread. 

Art Frampton is a Virologist at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.  He says South Korea, which tested thousands of people a day, got out in front of the crisis. The U.S. did not.

"We're in the stage now here in the States where we're more about mitigation, right? I think, you know, we're less concerned about containment because the virus is in all 50 States, right? It's more about mitigation strategies -- how do you break those chains of transmission, you know, social distancing, right? Starve the virus.  Don't allow the virus to find susceptible hosts."

Frampton says it’s impossible to predict when the disease will peak in North Carolina and how many people will be infected.  But since the novel Coronavirus is a far deadlier disease than the flu for those who suffer severe symptoms, he urges people to heed the restrictions.  

UNCW Virologist Art Frampton was a recent guest on CoastLine.  You can find that episode here.