Nursing home outbreak first reported last week sees first COVID-19 death

Published 7:29 pm Thursday, August 13, 2020

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY — The county’s death toll from COVID-19 reached 52 on Thursday after Autumn Care of Salisbury saw its first death from a resident.

Thursday’s death was the second reported in as many days. Prior to Wednesday, no deaths had been reported in the county for about two weeks.

Of the 52 deaths, 14 were people not associated with a congregate care facility, while 21 were from the Citadel, 15 from the N.C. State Veterans Home, one from Liberty Commons and one from Autumn Care. The average age among the deaths is 80.

Autumn Care of Salisbury was first declared an outbreak last week and has quickly risen to 34 total positive cases, with 26 among residents and eight among staff members. That total represents an additional two employees reported positive on Thursday.

Autumn Care has not yet responded to multiple requests from the Post regarding information about the outbreak.

County spokesperson TJ Brown said once the outbreak was reported county health officials reached out to the facility to ensure they had all the necessary information to mitigate the outbreak. Additionally, county health officials conducted a visit of the facility as they do with all outbreaks, and positive patients are being quarantined and isolated in a separate hall of the facility as other congregate care facilities are advised to do, he said.

Hospitalizations among locals significantly improved on Thursday and are now at 17 after reaching a record of 30 earlier this week. A total of 159 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 since the pandemic came to the county, with an average age of 62.

While hospitalizations among local residents are updated on the county’s data hub daily, the number of beds and ventilators being used by local hospitals is updated weekly. The latter includes veterans at the Salisbury VA and patients from other counties who seek care here. Thursday’s update showed 60 of the 103 COVID-19 beds are being used along with four of the 60 available ventilators.

The county’s percent positive rate continues to hover around 9%. The rate decreased to 9.36% on Thursday after 22,116 negative tests were reported to the county. The total number of tests reported is 24,400.

As of Thursday, a total of 2,284 people in Rowan County have tested positive. But the number of currently positive cases and recoveries both improved on Thursday, as 312 people are currently positive and 1,920 people have recovered.

Statewide, a total of 140,824 cases have been confirmed after 1.85 million completed tests, for a rate of 7%. Hospitalizations across the state grew to 1,070, and 2,287 people have died.

In other local statistics:

  • Hispanic residents of Rowan County make up 29.07% of all cases, at 664, despite only comprising less than 10% of the overall population. A total of 1,265 white residents have tested positive, along with 306 Black residents, 10 American Indian/Alaskan Native residents, six Asian residents and one Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. Of all cases, 365 are considered other and 331 are unknown.
  • The average age of positive cases is 42.4, with the plurality of cases among 18 to 35-year-olds, at 705. The next highest positive age bracket is 36-50 at 551 cases, 418 cases among those aged 51-64 and 372 cases among those older than 65. Children currently comprise 238 cases.
  • A total of 1,181 women have tested positive, with 1,103 cases among men.
  • Zip code 28147 remains the area most impacted by COVID-19 as 677 people have tested positive in that area. Next up is zip code 28144 at 468 cases and 387 cases the 28146 zip code.

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 or call her at 704-797-4246.

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