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County, state set new records for COVID-19 cases

SALISBURY — Both Rowan County and the state of North Carolina set new COVID-19 records Wednesday.

Rowan County set a record for the largest number of local residents hospitalized — 31. The previous record was August, when there were 30 local residents hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19. North Carolina, meanwhile, reported its highest one-day increase of COVID-19 positive tests — 3,119.

“This is not the milestone we want to be hitting, particularly as we head into holidays where people want to come together,” said N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen in a news release. “I am asking North Carolinians to do what they do best, look out for each other. Wear a mask. Wait six feet apart. Wash your hands often. We’ve had more time to learn about this devastating virus and study after study shows that these three simple actions can help keep our family, friends and neighbors from getting sick.”

The number of total COVID-19 cases in Rowan County was 4,577 on Wednesday, an increase of 33 from the day prior. It was the 13th-straight day in which cases increased by 25 or more. There was no change in the number of deaths — 123. With 3,895 people considered recovered, there were 559 active cases on Wednesday.

While there were 31 local residents hospitalized, that number is different than the number of beds in use, which can include people seeking care here who live elsewhere. The hospital bed data is updated weekly on Thursdays and showed 44 of 106 beds in use last week.

State health officials advise people to avoid travel over Thanksgiving and only gather with people in their household. Those who do plan to travel should be tested for COVID-19 ahead of time, state health officials say.

“People who have been recently diagnosed with COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been around a person with COVID-19, should not host or participate in any in-person gatherings until they complete their isolation or quarantine period,” a news release stated.

Across the state on Wednesday, there were 300,561 total COVID-19 cases, 1,246 people hospitalized and 4,698 deaths. There have been 4.45 million completed coronavirus tests in North Carolina. At least 261,719 people have recovered after testing positive.

“High case counts, including our highest day ever today and other key metrics are why North Carolina is staying paused in Phase 3 while we lower the indoor gathering limit to 10,” Gov. Roy Cooper said. “Wearing a mask, social distancing and being smart about this pandemic are more important than ever.”

In a new weekly report released this week, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said that meat and poultry processing plants have produced the largest number of cluster-associated COVID-19 cases — 3,969 — of all workplace types. Manufacturing, however, has the largest number of reported clusters — 67.

A cluster is defined as a minimum of five cases in a non-congregate living setting with illness onsets within a 14-day period and a plausible epidemiological link.

Of educational institutions, colleges or universities have been the most significant hotspot for COVID-19 clusters and cases.

Religious gatherings in the state have produced 1,393 COVID-19 cases from 100 clusters and 21 deaths.

The state says an estimated 42% of people in North Carolina has at least one underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk of a severe illness from COVID-19. As of Tuesday, 71% of North Carolinians who have died after testing positive had at least one underlying health condition putting them at higher risk.

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