COVID-19 NC: Restrictions, Recovery & Recognition

May 9, 2020

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News Founding Editor Rose Hoban. This week they discuss what health officials are monitoring as the first wave of  stay-home restrictions are lifted, the complicated challenge of figuring out if somebody has recovered from COVID-19 and her thoughts about Nurse’s week amid coronavirus. 

The governor held a news briefing just before the state modified order kicked in. What will you be watching going forward? Oh, I think I'm going to be watching all the same things they are.  Actually, hospitalized patients ticked down a tiny bit this week , so that’s a good thing. They're doing more testing. I think, Health and Human Services Secretary  Dr. Mandy Cohen said today that they did 8,000 tests one day this week.  And they're looking at how many folks are showing up at emergency departments with symptoms that are consistent with COVID. I was saying to someone today, it's like a   sawtooth. It goes up one day down a little bit next day -  up, down, up, down. But the trend line overall has been decreasing.

Also, during today's briefing there was a question about recovery and why the state isn't reporting the number of people who have recovered.  Dr Mandy Cohen hinted that that might be coming.

Well, here's the deal. They were told by the legislature that unless they meet several criteria, they wouldn't get the money that the legislature has appropriated for them. And one of those criteria is come up with a number for recovery. So they've got to come up with a number. The reality is though, I'm not sure what that number is going to mean. Now think about it like this - so you get heart disease as a result of COVID-19, we're hearing all these stories about people whose heart muscles are damaged from the coronavirus or who end up  with kidney disease as a result. And now they're on dialysis, so they no longer are in the hospital on a respirator. But are they recovered? How do you define recovery? Do you count all of those people that we haven't been able to count them because we don't know that they even had it.  So that's the problem with that recovery number. It is like the ultimate squishy numbers. So,  I mean, I have no idea what they're going to do. I think they're consulting with the CDC about like, you know, what should we include, but  that's just like a really hard number to actually come up with and I'm not really sure what it's going to mean when they do.

This week the country celebrated National Nurses Day/Week. This is your profession and I’d like to know what you've been thinking about this week.

As you know, I went to journalism school and I got a public health policy degree. What you probably don't know as I wrote both my master's thesis on why nurses leave nursing. Right. So, I have a lot of thoughts about this.  I'm really glad that people are recognizing nurses. It is way overdue. I think folks in general think that nurses are great. I think nurses are really showing their worth in these past few months. This is what nurses have always done. But you know, there's a real difference like hospital nursing, right? Versus nursing in a

Rose Hoban, NC Health News founding editor.
Credit NC Health News

nursing home, which is where we're seeing a lot of the deaths.  So part of it is  where your nurses are and how they're being valued, how they're being compensated, how they're being staffed, how they're being trained,  the resources they're given in order to care for their patients. So, I think it's great to recognize nurses, but actually do for them what they need done. Give them the resources to do their jobs right.  I'm really, really glad that we recognize nurses, but we need to recognize them every day, not just when we're in the middle of a crisis.

What is North Carolina health news working on for next week?   I’ve got a  story about insurance that's getting started. We'll run that on Monday or Tuesday. We're still tracking meat processing plants. We are still looking at nursing homes. And I actually sat in on a  webinar with the American Association of Actuaries and I'm doing something about what's going to happen to insurance premiums in the coming year.

About Rose Hoban: 

Rose Hoban is the founder and editor of NC Health News, as well as being the state government reporter. Hoban has been a registered nurse since 1992, but transitioned to journalism after earning degrees in public health policy and journalism. She's reported on science, health, policy and research in NC since 2005. Contact: editor at northcarolinahealthnews.org