Although the number of coronavirus cases in North Carolina continues to rise, Governor Roy Cooper said the state has made progress increasing testing and the supplies of personal protective gear.

As of Tuesday,  the state Department of Health and Human Services has completed more than 200,000 tests for the virus. Of those,15,346 cases of COVID-19 been confirmed and 577 deaths. Another 475 people remain hospitalized with the virus. 

The increase in cases is partly due to the state’s effort to ramp up testing and contract tracing. Last month, the state hired 250 people to conduct contact tracing for individuals that test positive, to further track the spread of the virus and limit exposure.

Since then, North Carolina has  doubled its testing rate to between 5,000 and 7,000 tests a day, Governor Cooper said a press conference Tuesday.

“We’ve been maintaining that, but we have to keep pushing for more,” Cooper said. “We need it to be easy and safe to be tested.”

To that end, the state is opening federally-funded free testing sites, which will be listed daily on the state’s COVID-19 website later this week. Testing locations include Walgreens, Walmart, and Harris Teeter. Additionally, more doctor’s offices are starting to offer tests for the virus.

For testing to be conducted safely, nurses and medical personnel need personal protective equipment such as face masks and several North Carolina businesses have stepped in to help. Among them, Durham’s Bright View Technologies have pivoted its factories to manufacture face shields for healthcare workers on the front lines.

The state is also working with Honeywell in Charlotte to receive 100,000 N95 face masks masks a month for the next year. 

Shipments of the new equipment is already starting to come in, Cooper said.

“North Carolina has a long history as a leader in manufacturing and innovation, and I’m proud that our homegrown companies are leading the way in making critical supplies for our frontline workers,” Cooper said. 

Contact Raleigh news editor Leigh Tauss at 

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