Coronavirus cases are rising in North Carolina with the state adding more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases daily since Thursday (10/18). BPR’s Helen Chickering checks in with NC Health News Editor Rose Hoban about the case surge and the newly released NC Health News Voter Guide on Health.
HC: Cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in NC, even breaking records. We were talking off-mic and you noted you’ve been taking a broader look at what's happening across the country,
RH: There's this huge surge in the upper Midwest, Wisconsin, Michigan, Montana. They are seeing vastly increased rates of COVID. I dug into Wisconsin's numbers because the White House Coronavirus Taskforce expressed concern about what's happening in Wisconsin. So, think about this. Wisconsin is half the size of North Carolina. Friday, they had more than 3,700 new cases diagnosed. By comparison, North Carolina, twice the size - we had a high of 2,500 cases diagnosed. Wisconsin is so worried that they have just set up a field hospital on their state fairgrounds. So, this is kind of what it looks like when it's getting out of control. Folks will say, well, why is this happening? And I think Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen talked about it yesterday during the press conference - namely, that people are spending more time inside.
HC: Where we're more likely to be in close contact with other people, but it's also about humidity and the lower humidity as the cooler weather sets in help us unpack that.
RH: Think about sitting in your house on a dry winters day and the sunshine is coming through and you're watching the little dust motes float. And so, it's that same type of dry air where things can remain airborne. They're thinking now that the COVID virus can remain airborne for a certain amount of time and they're still not clear how long in drier air. So, in some senses you could say that, you know, our reductions over the summer were a function of the higher humidity that we have in North Carolina. And the fact that people were spending all this time outside, but as the weather gets colder and it'll get a lot colder. I'm down here in Chapel Hill, you're up in Ashville, it'll get a lot colder up there
HC: I'm going to switch gears. Early voting is now underway in North Carolina and your team just issued a handy voter guide, looking at candidates running for federal and state offices and their positions on a number of healthcare issues from the pandemic to Medicaid expansion.
RH: It's specifically focused on healthcare issues. So, don't go looking for anything about climate change or another hot button issue. And we're going to add one or two more races to it. We just wanted to get the big races up for the beginning of early voting. You can find the NC Health News Voter Guide on Health here
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