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County reports new COVID-19 death outside of nursing home

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — One additional Rowan County resident not affiliated with a congregate care facility has died from COVID-19, according to the county’s update on Wednesday.

That brings the total number of deaths to 51, with all but 14 from congregate care facilities. Prior to Wednesday, the most recent death was reported more than two weeks ago from someone also outside of a local congregate care facility, as many recent deaths have been. Of the 51 deaths, 21 have been from the Citadel, along with 15 at the N.C. State Veterans Home and one from Liberty Commons. The average age among the deaths is 80.

Hospitalizations remained at 29 on Wednesday. A total of 155 people have been hospitalized since the pandemic came to Rowan County, with an average age of 62 among the patients.

An additional 27 people tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the county’s total to 2,254. Though the number of currently positive cases grew by one and is now at 332, recoveries continue to improve and are now at 1,871.

Cases at congregate care facilities remain at 272, with 30 of those currently at the Autumn Care of Salisbury. A total of 22,913 tests have been reported to the county, but that number doesn’t include the most up-to-date total of negative tests, which is updated once a week. Over the last two weeks, the percent positive rate has been around 9%.

Statewide, a total of 139,061 people have tested positive after 1.82 million completed tests, for a rate of 7%. Tuesday’s update had reflected that 2 million tests had been completed, but state health officials announced Wednesday that corrections were made to the state’s daily and cumulative completed test counts after they discovered a discrepancy between electronic and manual reporting of testing data submitted by LabCorp.

The LabCorp data error resulted in a higher count of tests performed, but the error doesn’t affect the overall key metrics and trends used to monitor and better understand the pandemic in North Carolina. It also didn’t impact the reporting of results to patients or doctors, state health officials said.

“Last week, NCDHHS informed us they had identified an inconsistency across LabCorp data submissions, which are provided to the state through both an electronic reporting system that is established through state regulations and a separate manual process as requested by NCDHHS,” said Brian Caveney, chief medical officer and president of LabCorp Diagnostics. “We determined that from late April until last week, Pixel by LabCorp at-home test collection kits that originated out-of-state but were processed in North Carolina were inadvertently included in the manual data submission to the state. We quickly corrected the issue and provided the updated manual reports to NCDHHS. LabCorp’s daily electronically reported data was accurate and unaffected by the error, and this issue does not affect other states or any results reported to patients or their providers.”

Testing data can be submitted to the state at the patient-level, either electronically through the state’s Electronic Disease Surveillance System or manually. State health officials say around 80% of tests are submitted electronically, and the remaining results must be manually entered into the system.

Testing data can also be submitted by labs daily via manual communications. Officials said they’re working to report exclusively through the state system to improve data accuracy.

Hospitalizations across the state decreased by 49 and are currently at 1,062. A total of 2,249 people have died.

State health officials are also seeking regional partners to administer the COVID-19 Support Services Program for areas of the state most impacted by the pandemic. The purpose of the program is to provide additional support so counties can successfully quarantine or isolate positive patients, particularly frontline workers and individuals in high-risk groups, or those who work low-wage jobs without paid sick leave or health insurance.

Services for eligible patients include nutrition assistance such as home-delivered meals or groceries; a one-time COVID-19 relief payment to help the patient meet basic living expenses while in isolation or quarantine; transportation to and from testing sites, non-congregate shelters, medical visits or to acquire food; medication delivery; and COVID-related protective equipment and supplies like hand sanitizer and face masks.

Rowan County is among the counties targeted for the support services.

Regional partners can submit a Request or Applications (RFA) to directly deliver or partner with other local community-based organizations to deliver the support. Support services are funded from the approximate $17 million of CARES Act funding.

State health officials anticipate beginning support services in early September. Additional information about the program and how to apply can be found at the state’s website. Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday.

In other local statistics:

  • Hispanic residents of Rowan County make up 29.19% of all cases, at 658, despite only comprising less than 10% of the overall population. A total of 1,253 white residents have tested positive, along with 301 Black residents, 10 American Indian/Alaskan Native residents, six Asian residents and one Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. Of all cases, 359 are considered other and 324 are unknown.
  • The average age of positive cases is 42.4, with the plurality of cases among 18 to 35-year-olds, at 697. The next highest positive age bracket is 36-50 at 542 cases, 413 cases among those aged 51-64 and 365 cases among those older than 65. Children currently comprise 237 cases.
  • A total of 1,164 women have tested positive, with 1,090 cases among men.
  • Zip code 28147 remains the area most impacted by COVID-19 as 669 people have tested positive in that area. Next up is zip code 28144 at 462 cases and 380 cases the the 28146 zip code.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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