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Officials urge caution as county sees another double-digit jump in COVID-19 cases

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Rowan County on Thursday reported for the third time this week a double-digit jump in COVID-19 cases, bringing the total count to 451, with 13 new recoveries.

Meanwhile, Rowan County officials are telling the public to be cautious as the stay-at-home order’s phase one modification takes effect 5 p.m. Friday.

County data show 451 positive COVID-19 cases here, with 25 deaths, after 2,750 tests have been conducted. A total of 182 people have recovered, up from 169 one day earlier. Currently, 14 individuals are being hospitalized.

Statewide, a total of 13,397 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 after 171,328 tests have been conducted. There have been a total of 507 deaths with 525 hospitalizations.

Four congregate living facilities in Rowan County are the sites of active COVID-19 outbreaks, including the Citadel, located on Julian Road; N.C. State Veteran’s Home, located on the Hefner VA Medical Center campus; Liberty Commons, located at 4412. S. Main St.; and the Laurels of Salisbury, located at 215 Lash Dr.

Of the 25 COVID-19 deaths locally, 17 have been from the Citadel nursing home, seven have been from the N.C. State Veteran’s Home and one was not associated with a congregate living facility. There is an average age of 84 among the deaths compared to an average age of 53.7 among all cases.

The first phase of the reopening allows most businesses to open, including retail businesses that operate at 50% capacity with frequent cleaning and social distancing, and an encouragement for parks and trails to reopen. Additionally, gatherings are still limited to 10 people, but gathering outdoors with friends is allowed. Certain businesses such as gyms, salons, bars and theaters will remain closed, and restaurants will continue to offer delivery and take-out services only.

Rowan County doesn’t have any additional restrictions in place beyond the governor’s executive order. Officials urge citizens who are feeling sick to stay home and only leave to seek health care or necessary services.

Officials say the county continues to experience community spread, meaning the virus is being spread from person-to-person. County spokesperson TJ Brown said of the total 451 positive cases, 76 have occurred outside of congregate care facilities within the last seven days, which accounts for 27.2% of the total 279 cases that aren’t affiliated with congregate care settings.

“It is extremely important to remain cautious when leaving home,” a news release said. “Please do not let your guard down.”

Rowan County Public Health Director Nina Oliver said to continue cleaning high-touch surfaces such as cell phones, pens, steering wheels, keyboards, counters, desks and remote controls.

“We continue to see folks who are asymptomatic, meaning they don’t display any symptoms,” she said. “It’s hard to protect yourself if someone is positive for the virus but doesn’t appear or sound sick. That’s why you should wear face masks (even) if you need to gather in groups less than 10.”

Local officials also urge the community to remember “the three W’s,” which includes wearing a cloth face covering, waiting 6 feet apart and washing hands often or using hand sanitizer.

Rowan County continues to have more cases and COVID-19 deaths as well as a lower percentage of recoveries than any of its immediate neighbors, including Cabarrus County, which has 338 cases and 17 deaths. State data also show Rowan remains in the top six counties for positive cases and in a similar position for its number of deaths.

In other COVID-19 statistics:

  • Individuals aged 65 and older make up the plurality of cases at 150. A total of 89 cases are in the 51-64 age range, 102 are aged 36-50, 99 are aged 18-35 and 11 are younger than 18 years old.
  • Of the positive cases, 278 individuals are white, 110 are black or African American, three are Asian, one is American Indian/Alaskan Native, 67 are Hispanic, 48 are unknown and 11 are other.
  • Females still make up the majority of positive cases, at 251, while males represent 200 positive cases.
  • Zip code 28147 remains the area of the county with the most positive cases, at 207, which is where the Citadel nursing home is located. Next is 28144, a Salisbury zip code, with 104 cases. Zip code 28146, which includes part of Salisbury and some of eastern Rowan, has 59 positive cases.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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