County says 16 of local COVID-19 deaths are from nursing homes; positive cases continue increasing

Published 8:50 pm Wednesday, April 22, 2020

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY — Rowan County has reached 20 deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday, with at least 16 of the deaths coming from individuals who lived in one of two nursing homes with outbreaks.

The two nursing homes include the Citadel, located on Julian Road, and the N.C. State Veterans Home, located on the campus of the W.G. “Bill” Hefner VA Medical Center. County spokesman and Emergency Services Division Chief TJ Brown said the county isn’t specifying how many deaths were from each facility, the only congregate living facilities in the county with confirmed outbreaks.

No further information was released about any of the deaths, to include the new ones on Wednesday that brought the total to 20

The daily COVID-19 update from the county further showed the number of positive cases rose to 276 with 1,964 tests conducted, a 14% positive rate. A total of 18 individuals are currently hospitalized with the virus, and 57 have recovered.

Brown noted that the number of positive cases increased by 14 on Wednesday, with a majority of the cases caused by the virus spreading person-to-person. Thus, Brown said, the county “needs to do better at keeping separation from each other.”

“It really does matter,” he said in a statement. “Help us protect our community by maintaining at least 6 feet between you and anyone else. When social distancing is difficult, cloth face coverings are recommended.”

More females, 155, have tested positive for the virus here compared to males — 121 positive cases. Individuals aged 65 and older make up the plurality of cases at 128, and 59.5 is the average age for a positive individual.

Zip code 28147 remains the biggest area of positive cases, which is where the Citadel nursing home is located. There, positive cases include at least 96 residents and 17 workers, wrote Rowan Medical Center Emergency Department Medical Director John Bream in an opinion column published in the Salisbury Post earlier this week.

Across the state, 7,220 cases have been confirmed positive after 90,336 tests have been conducted. In total, there have been 242 deaths statewide. State data show 434 currently hospitalized.

For those in need of testing, the Novant Health COVID-19 drive-thru screening and respiratory assessment center in Salisbury has recently moved its location from 315 Mocksville Ave. to 1904 Jake Alexander Blvd. The new location is offering rapid testing for patients who meet the testing criteria. After being tested, patients on Wednesday waited in the parking lot for their results.

Brown said the county is still recommending that individuals who are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms — dry cough, sore throat, fever or difficulty breathing — should contact their doctor first, who will help the patient decide if a COVID-19 test is needed.

Individuals can also contact the 24/7 Novant coronavirus helpline at 1-877-9NOVANT.

Other COVID-19 statistics:

  • While 65 and older remains the largest age group of local positive cases, at 128, the next highest age range is 18-35, with 52 cases. There are 49 cases for individuals aged 51-64 and 47 cases for ages 36-50.
  • The majority of positive cases have been among white individuals — 141 cases. Of the individuals who have tested positive, 67 are black or African American, 19 are white/hispanic, two are Asian, two are other and 31 are unknown.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at or call her at 704-797-4246.

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