Rowan health department releases hospital bed, ventilator usage numbers

Published 7:40 pm Friday, April 17, 2020

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Health Department says 15 of 102 dedicated COVID-19 beds are being used at two local hospitals.

For the first time Friday, the Rowan County Health Department released COVID-19 data about resource usage in local hospitals, including Novant Health Rowan Medical Center and the W.G. “Bill” Hefner VA Medical Center. The department initially said there were 30 beds being used on Friday but corrected that figure later, saying there were 18. On Saturday, just 15 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.

There are 61 ventilators, which assist patients with breathing, between the two hospitals. Nine were being used on Friday.

“Each hospital has pre-existing contingency plans which will provide for additional beds and ventilators should the need arise,” a news release said. “These needs would be coordinated through the larger system that each are a part of.”

The J.F. Hurley YMCA could be used as a medical shelter as an “extreme backup,” according to county officials.

The health department says it plans to release the resource data weekly.

The health department’s Saturday update also said 248 people had tested positive for COVID-19 — an increase of five from Friday and more than double the total from week ago. Saturday’s total, which includes at least 106 from local nursing homes, puts Rowan among North Carolina counties with the most positive cases, according to statistics maintained by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Other notable statistics in Friday and Saturday’s updates are as follows:

• With 1,762 people tested for the coronavirus-caused disease, roughly 13.7% have tested positive in Rowan County.

• 54 people in the county have recovered since testing positive for COVID-19.

• On Saturday, 12 people in the county had died after testing positive, the same number as Friday and Thursday.

• Females represent a majority of COVID-19 positives in Rowan County. There are 137 females and 111 males who have tested positive.

• Due in large part to positive cases at The Citadel nursing home on Julian Road, there are 134 COVID-19 cases in the 28147 zip code — the most of any zip code in the county.

• Of positive patients, 138 are white, 63 are black or African-American, 28 are of an unknown race, 15 are Hispanic, 2 are Asian and 2 are “other.”

• A plurality of positive cases in Rowan County, 120, are people who are 65 and above. There are no positive cases identified among people younger than 18.

There are 42 positive cases among people 51-64; 42 positive cases among people aged 36-50; and 43 cases among people ages 18-35.

Warning against events

In adjacent Cabarrus County on Friday, health officials warned people to be wary of gathering in groups, no matter the size of the event.

The Cabarrus Health Alliance said there have been COVID-19 outbreaks in the county stemming from a wedding, an Easter gathering and birthday parties. In most of the cases, the people in attendance was lower than 10. And there have been at least 18 positive COVID-19 tests stemming from those events.

“Less than 10 isn’t some magic number that prevents the spread of the virus,” Cabarrus Health Alliance Chief Operating Officer Erin Shoe said. “There’s a reason for the stay-at-home proclamation … and there are real, consequential effects of not following that order and socializing and interacting in groups outside your family nucleus.”

A clinical investigators for the health alliance said there’s a growing trend of people having parties or events before testing positive.

“Some people are feeling more comfortable and they are starting to have small gatherings, and then we’re seeing many people (at those gatherings) getting sick,” said Dr. Natasha Mofrad, a member of the CHA’s clinical investigation team.

On Friday, there were 207 COVID-19 cases in Cabarrus County and four deaths. Of those who have tested positive in Cabarrus County, 64 have recovered.