County jumps by double digits in one day to reach 310 positive COVID-19 cases

Published 8:48 pm Friday, April 24, 2020

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Rowan County’s COVID-19 case count jumped from 288 to 310 on Friday, which marks the second largest jump in cases since the pandemic made its local appearance.

A total of 2,101 tests have been conducted in Rowan County. Of the 310 positive cases, 20 people have died, 16 are currently hospitalized and 73 have recovered. On Thursday, public health officials said 15 of 20 deaths were from the Citadel nursing home located on Julian Road, four were NC State Veterans Home residents and one person was not a patient at a congregate care facility.

Statewide, 8,052 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 of the 100,584 tests conducted. North Carolina has seen 269 deaths and 477 hospitalizations from the virus across the state.

But state data on COVID-19 cases differs from Rowan County’s data. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting Rowan County has 323 positive cases and 16 deaths. The state data is updated daily by 11 a.m. while the county health department updates its data every evening.

Rowan County spokesperson TJ Brown said a discrepancy between county and state data has happened once before — notably when there was a number of positive test results after the Citadel’s outbreak was confirmed. While the county is “putting eyes on individualized numbers to hand-crunch” the data for each case, the state uses an automated system to pull data. Therefore, Brown said, sometimes cases don’t have a phone number or address attached to the individual and may be wrongfully reported under Rowan County.

Brown said the county health department has its own investigation team that looks into such discrepancies. If the team is unable to verify the county the case belongs to, it is sent back to the state to redetermine the county to which it belongs.

He added that the time at which the final positive case count is determined each day depends on how many cases come in. The county reports demographic data along with each case, so it can be more time-consuming than just reporting the case count, Brown said.

Nonetheless, Brown said, the data from the state is “valid when it’s reported based on the processes they use,” and the county’s is valid based on the processes it uses. According to state data, only Durham, Mecklenburg, Wake and Wayne counties have more positive COVID-19 cases than Rowan. There are 100 counties in the state.

The higher case jump from Thursday to Friday can be attributed to citizens not adhering to social distancing measures that have been recommended by government and health officials, Brown said.

Both Brown and Rowan County Health Department Director Nina Oliver emphasized that citizens must continue their due diligence in maintaining social distancing measures and only leaving home for essential business like grocery shopping and pharmacy visits.

Oliver added that she doesn’t think citizens have done a good job of following those orders. She noted a community-acquired case where someone went to the mountains during the Easter holiday with a group of people.

“We really need to resist those urges,” she said of unnecessary travel.
Oliver said the health department does not have the authority to require companies to obey Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order, which has been extended to May 8.

“We provide education,” Oliver said.

In other COVID-19 statistics:
  • The average age of positive cases is 58.3. Individuals aged 65 and older comprise the plurality of cases, at 133. The age group 51-64 has 57 cases, the 36-50 group has 59 cases and the group 18-35 has 60 cases.
  • Of the positive cases, 175 individuals are white, 72 are black or African American, 2 are Asian, one is American Indian/Alaskan Native, 57 are unknown and 2 are other.
  • Females still make up the majority of positive cases at 179, while males comprise 131 positive cases.
  • Zip code 28147 remains the area of the county with the most positive cases, which is where the Citadel nursing home is located.

Shavonne Potts contributed to this report. 

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 natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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