County breaks month-long streak of double-digit increases in COVID-19 cases

Published 9:38 pm Saturday, July 18, 2020

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Saturday broke Rowan County’s nearly month-long trend of double-digit increases in new cases after nine additional cases were reported to the county.

Over the previous week, recoveries have risen and the number of currently positive cases declined. Of the 1,672 cases reported on Saturday, 256 are currently positive, which is an increase of eight from one day earlier. Recoveries grew by one and are currently at 1,371.

Before Saturday, Rowan County’s last single-digit increase was June 20, when the number of new positive cases increased by 6.

Hospitalizations remained at 11. Deaths stayed at 45. A total of 21 people have died from the Citadel, along with 15 at the N.C. State Veterans Home, one death at Liberty Commons and eight not associated with a congregate care facility. The total number of positive cases at congregate living facilities remained at 231 on Saturday. A total of 9,267 tests have been reported to the county.

Despite some positive trends, the number of beds being used for COVID-19 patients, however, jumped from 10 to 46 on Friday. County spokesperson TJ Brown said that data is usually updated once a week and is reported from Novant Health Rowan Medical Center and the W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center.

While hospitalizations are reported each day, the number of beds being used is updated weekly to gauge capacity, Brown said. The Salisbury VA often accepts veterans from other counties that don’t have VA hospitals, but they aren’t included in the county’s daily report of hospitalizations. That’s one likely explanation, Brown said, why the hospitalizations number was steady while the number of occupied beds jumped.

Across the state, a total of 97,958 people have tested positive after 1.38 million completed tests, for a statewide rate of 9%. Hospitalizations in the state decreased by 26 on Saturday and are now at 1,154. A total of 1,629 people have died across the state.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services selected 13 businesses on Friday to join its pool of qualified vendors to support the state’s response to COVID-19, bringing the total number of vendors to 39.

The selected vendors are pre-qualified to work with the department. The department is prioritizing working with minority-owned business vendors or vendors who retain a diverse workforce. NCDHHS is working with the Office for Historically Underutilized Businesses and partners to encourage prioritized vendors to apply.

Vendors applied to be qualified for individual or multiple components to support the state’s strategy:

  • Testing and Lab Capacity. Knowing who has COVID-19 is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19. New guidance recommends clinicians test anyone suspected of having COVID-19, as well as people who are at higher risk of exposure, higher risk for serious illness or disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 regardless of symptoms. Among the areas of focus are supporting historically marginalized populations, testing in congregate living facilities, testing in areas with outbreaks, addressing low-tested counties or communities and supporting businesses and their workforce.
  • Contact Tracing. Contact Tracing is a proven, effective way to help slow the spread of diseases like COVID-19. Contact tracing identifies people who have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. This helps North Carolina more rapidly identify those who may have been exposed and quickly get them the necessary supports and resources that can help protect them and their loved ones. To meet the scale needed to respond to COVID-19, NCDHHS is seeking vendors who represent the communities and people impacted by COVID-19 to build on the work of local health departments through vendors.

The initiative is a rolling qualification process, and vendors can submit a response by the first of every month until December. The Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for Round 3, which is for testing and lab capacity, is now posted. The deadline for response is July 31. In addition, the department anticipates issuing future RFQs for other functions related to COVID-19.

Qualified vendors testing include:

  • Cone Health
  • Groundwater Solutions
  • Mako Medical
  • North Carolina Community Health Center Association
  • Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Labs
  • Visit Healthcare

Qualified vendors for lab capacity include:

  • Kashi Clinical Laboratories
  • Mako Medical
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Labs

Qualified vendors for contact tracing include:

  • Conduent State Healthcare LLC
  • Jennifer Temps, Inc
  • Agile Government Services, Inc.
  • AM LLC
  • Computer Aid Inc (CAI)
  • Groundwater Solutions
  • Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency

COVID-19 continues to disproportionately affect Hispanic residents of Rowan County. Despite making up about 9% of the county’s population, they account for 30.26% of all positive cases, at 506.

A total of 933 white residents have tested positive for COVID-19 along with 213 Black residents, five American Indian/Alaskan Native residents, five Asian residents and one Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. A total of 290 are considered unknown and 225 are considered “other.”

The average age among cases is at 42.3, with most cases among those aged 18-35 — 531. Those aged 36-50 comprise 417 cases, while there are 285 cases among the 51-64 age group, 271 among those older than 65, and 168 for children younger than 18.

Men and women now evenly split the total of COVID-19 cases, for a total of 836 cases each.

A plurality of cases have been in zip code 28147, and are now up to 554. Zip code 28144 has had 373 cases, and 28146 has had 244 cases.

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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