Today’s data release from the NC Department of Health and Human Services showed the state reached a new threshold: over a thousand people in North Carolina hospitals with COVID-19. (It would not be accurate to say “hospitalized for COVID-19,” because people going to the hospital for any reason are tested for COVID, and if they test positive, they are counted as a COVID hospitalization regardless of the medical reason for the hospital visit.)

Reaching a new data threshold like this makes it easy for local media to churn out the scary headlines they and Gov. Roy Cooper crave. Today’s should feature in banner headlines as well as future press conferences. Having over 2,000 new cases (2,039 after 25,129 new tests, meaning 8.1 percent returned positive) will likely also be stressed.

Nevertheless, despite the new high, and regardless of the political goals of making it seem as if we’re on the brink of COVID disaster, let’s remember again:

  • the original shutdown/lockdown orders were to “flatten the curve
  • what flattening the curve really meant
  • Cooper has been announcing since late April that we have flattened the curve
  • what hospitalizations would be doing now if we had succeeded at flattening the curve (i.e., the best-case scenario)
  • how the present number of people in NC hospitals with COVID-19 compare with that best-case scenario

The graph above answers that last bullet point. At 1,034 hospitalizations, we’re about one-twelfth of the best-case scenario hospitalizations projected now.

Taken in context, this scary number is good news, not bad.

Here is that graph again. It’s a small portion taken from a much, much larger graph provided to the General Assembly by the North Carolina Medical Society on March 26:

Here is the full NC Medical Society graph with today’s number added (you’ll have to look closely):

Read here for more discussion from the NC Medical Society about the graph.