COVID-19NC: Gov. Cooper Announces Study Partnership With UNC, ECU & Duke

Apr 18, 2020

At Friday’s news briefing, Governor Roy Cooper announced that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is working with academic partners across the state to understand how widespread cases of COVID-19 with mild or no symptoms are in the state and to monitor prevalence of the disease over time.

“Earlier this week, I laid out our path forward to a new normal dependent upon testing, tracing and trends. I wanted to share some key updates about our work on that front,” said Cooper. “On testing, North Carolina has made great strides but we have more work to do. We’ve conducted at least 73,000 tests which is a long way from where we were a month ago.”

“In fact, testing in our state has increased by 88 percent over the last two weeks. But we need testing to be more widespread, and we need to use it to give us a better indication of where we are in this fight. Today we announce a partnership with three of our state’s medical universities to use testing and tracing to help us determine how far the disease has spread in the state. This is part of a coordinated statewide effort to better understand the true number of COVID-19 infections.”

“The University of North Carolina, East Carolina University and Duke University are joining with us in this project and we’re confident their expertise will tell us more about how the disease spreads. The President yesterday shared guidelines for the country to be able to re-open. It was good to see that many of the national criteria match what we’re doing here in North Carolina, but I and other Governors have been clear – we still need assistance with testing supplies and PPE.”

“North Carolina’s actions to flatten the curve and fight COVID-19 are working. We know we need more testing of all types, and this research partnership will help us better understand the virus so we can keep our communities safe as we seek to ease restrictions,” said Governor Cooper. 

“We have to focus our collective resources – across government, private and public sectors – to defeat this virus. Our research partners are integral to winning the fight,” NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD said. “These studies will seek to address some important knowledge gaps while building on existing partnerships including the North Carolina Partnership for Excellence in Applied Epidemiology, a collaboration between the DHHS and UNC Chapel Hill,” said Dr. Allison Aiello, Professor of Epidemiology at UNC.

To learn more about Governor Cooper’s path forward for North Carolina and how testing, tracing and trends will help determine when to loosen restrictions for COVID-19, visit nc.gov/covid19.