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NCDHHS selects additional vendor to expand COVID-19 testing capacity

North Carolina health officials share latest Coronavirus update.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday its selection of an additional vendor, Optum Serve, to continue surging COVID-19 testing capacity in the state. These new community testing sites build on North Carolina’s ongoing work to increase access to testing and slow viral spread in key locations, including the previously-announced surge of additional testing capacity in seven counties.

"Testing is a core element of North Carolina’s response to this pandemic, and that means making sure cost and access challenges never act as a barrier to a needed test. As we continue expanding free community testing options, we’re helping North Carolinians to stay informed about their health and help slow the spread of COVID-19," said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D.

Covid-19 cases in North  Carolina continue to trend slightly downward fueled, in part, by lower testing levels over the past several days.  However, the percentage of positive cases has dipped to 5.9%, which is a number health officials have been aiming for.  

As of Monday there are 1,106 new cases of Coronavirus throughout the state bringing the total number of lab-confirmed cases of the virus to 185,781. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports 916 people are hospitalized.  Since tracking began in North Carolina, 3,060 people have died.  

Health officials are urging people to protect themselves as flu season nears by getting a flu vaccine.  Experts warn flu season could be exasperated by the Covid-19 pandemic.  

RELATED: Some could have flu and COVID-19 this season, experts warn

“This year, with COVID-19 still spreading in our communities, it’s critically important to get your flu vaccine,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “Flu can be a serious, sometimes deadly, disease. It is important to get vaccinated against the flu to keep you and your family healthy.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older. Vaccination against the flu can make illness milder and reduce the risk of more serious outcomes, according to health officials.  

A clinical trial for a Covid-19 vaccine is currently underway in the Charlotte area but as of Monday, local doctors raised concerns about a lack of diversity in participants.  

"For the vaccine to be the most helpful, we need to be sure that it's safe and works for everyone," said Dr. Ryan Shelton, with Tryon Medical Partners, which is conducting the Charlotte trials. 

RELATED: 'Those numbers are too low' | Charlotte coronavirus vaccine trials call for more representation in participants

The research call is for adult participants only. The deadline to apply is Friday, September 18. To participate or get more information about the trials, call Tryon Medical Partners at 704-586-9386.

RELATED: Participants needed for Covid-19 vaccine trial in Charlotte

As of September 9, NCDHHS reported about 3 in 4 reported cases were adults ages 20 to 59 years old.  About 1 in 4 reported cases were Hispanic, most of who were younger adults. 

According to the latest numbers released by NCDHHS, of the three hundred-thirty-two deaths due to Covid-19, almost all deaths were among older adults (age 60 and up.)  Four deaths were adults between the ages of 20 and 29 and 43 deaths were adults ages 40 to 59.  All except five of those deaths were adults with underlying chronic illnesses.