Only a few new COVID-19 cases as hospitalizations drop, recoveries rise

Published 7:33 pm Thursday, June 18, 2020

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The county reported only five additional COVID-19 cases on Thursday as the number of hospitalizations and currently positive cases continued to drop.

A total of 955 individuals have tested positive in Rowan County, with 236 of those currently positive, a decrease of 23 from Wednesday. A total of 679 individuals have recovered, and 17 individuals are being hospitalized. Hospitalizations decreased by eight on Thursday following several days of nearly two dozen hospitalizations being reported.

The modest increase of cases reported Thursday comes as the total number of cases have risen at an increasing rate throughout June. The additional five cases were reported after 76 new tests. A total of 5,177 tests have been reported in the county.

During a media call with the Post on Wednesday morning, Public Health Director Nina Oliver expressed concern with Rowan County having a higher rate of cases for its population than the state. While the state has reported 459 cases per 100,000 residents, Rowan County’s rate is 672 per 100,000 residents as of Thursday.

Despite more testing being conducted statewide, Oliver said improper social distancing is the reason behind the county’s increasing rate of cases, perhaps because this is the time of year that people travel most often. One week ago, there were 830 cases. Two weeks ago, there were 716 cases. Cases have continued to rise among other states as well.

Oliver added that new cases don’t seem to be from recent protests, but rather cases from Memorial Day weekend celebrations. She did urge protestors and anyone going to parks, family gatherings or cookout to wear masks.

The county outlined in a press release on Thursday its current COVID-19 response coordination in the county. Some of those efforts include prevention strategies and safety precautions for reopening at colleges, situational awareness among community leaders, continual public information via daily press releases and media calls and public questions received at the COVID-19 hotline. That number is 980-432-1800, and the email is covid-19@rowancountync.gov.

A total of 219 cases have been among congregate care facilities. The total number of deaths remains at 40, with all but four of those deaths coming from congregate care facilities. The average age among the deaths is 83.

One of the efforts county officials outlined on Thursday includes three meetings per week between Novant Health, Emergency Management, Public Health and the local long-term congregate care facilities.

Additionally, county officials said they’re focusing on testing the local black and Hispanic communities as they have been disproportionally susceptible to COVID-19 and COVID-19 complications. Furthermore, new testing opportunities are being established with the Salisbury Housing Authority and the town of East Spencer.

The county also plans to establish a “facemask drive” to provide free masks to the public.

The average age among total positive cases has continued to drop and is now at 46, with more than half of the positive cases among residents age 50 or younger. Most of the cases range within ages 18-35, at 281. A total of 235 individuals have tested positive in the 36-50 age range. There are 213 cases among those 65 and older, 156 in the 51-64 age group and 70 are among children.

Until June, more women had tested positive for COVID-19 in the county. On Thursday, a total of 496 cases were among men and 459 are among women.

Of the 955 total cases, 515 are among white individuals, 148 are black individuals, 260 are Hispanic, three are Asian, one is Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, 89 are other and 198 are unknown.

Zip code 28147 remains the area with the most positive cases, now at 390. The Citadel, which is the site of the biggest nursing home outbreak in the county, is within the 28147 zip code. The next highest case count, at 231, is within zip code 28144. A total of 103 individuals have tested positive in zip code 28146.

Salisbury remains the area with the most positive cases, currently at 448. In the county, there were 358 cases on Thursday. The Rowan side of Kannapolis contains 64 of the total cases.

Statewide, a total of 48,188 cases have been confirmed after 693,678 completed tests. A total of 1,175 individuals have died as 857 are being hospitalized across the state.

State health officials have announced that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will allocate $35 million to local health departments for COVID-19 relief. The funds can be used to support COVID-19 staffing, infection controls, testing and tracing, IT infrastructure, data sharing and visualization.

Rowan County will receive $558,560. The funds have been dispersed with a base total of $90,000 per county with additional funds based on population and cumulative positive case load.

The funding is part of NCDHHS’ cooperative agreement with the CDC Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity, which awards annual funding to state, local and territorial health departments to support vector-borne disease surveillance and response, according to a news release. The coverage period ends at the end of 2022.

Reporter Shavonne Potts contributed to this story.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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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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