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COVID-19 tests, cases decrease after Christmas while positive percentage rises

SALISBURY — Total tests conducted in North Carolina have decreased sharply following Christmas, but the percentage returning positive is headed in the opposite direction.

North Carolina reported Tuesday that 13.5% of the latest 18,846 tests conducted had returned positive, meaning that 3,563 new cases were added to the state’s total.

The number of new positives is one data point in a decreasing number of daily cases reported in the state since Christmas Eve, when there were more than 7,700. There was a peak of more than 8,400 new cases reported Dec. 18. But the decrease in positives is also accompanied by a downturn in the number of tests completed. The nearly 19,000 tests on Tuesday is much lower than the 80,170 reported Christmas Eve.

Moving in the wrong direction is the number of people hospitalized, now at another record of 3,377 in the state, as well as the percentage of positives, which was 10.4% on Christmas Eve.

Rowan County looks like it’s following the same trend as the state at large, as the number of positives have generally been lower since Christmas Eve, when a record 267 were reported. Since then, only one day has brought a triple-digit increase. On Tuesday, the county reported 59 new cases, 26 new recoveries and no other changes of note.

Because of the Christmas holiday, Rowan County has not updated testing numbers to include the total number of negatives. But there have been fewer opportunities for public testing, and state data show a general decline in the number of tests conducted. With between 200 and 300 tests dated for Tuesday, the state counted nearly 20% as positive. The 14-day average of positives in Rowan, meanwhile, is 14.5%.

As of Tuesday, there have been 8,620 COVID-19 positives in Rowan County, 164 deaths, 332 total Rowan Countians hospitalized and 5,558 recoveries. County data show 24 Rowan Countians being hospitalized Tuesday, but an update last week showed local hospitals nearly at capacity for their number of COVID-19 beds, with 91 of 108 being used, which can include people from elsewhere being hospitalized here.

With recoveries taking longer, the number of active cases has risen in recent weeks, currently standing at 2,898. Congregate living cases also continue to rise, with 1,076 over the course of the pandemic and 11 active outbreaks at local nursing homes or residential care facilities. The largest outbreak still considered active is Trinity Oaks Skilled Nursing, which has seen 133 total cases, including 47 employees and 86 residents.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says 275 people in Rowan County have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination while 63,571 in the state have received one.

North Carolina has seen 524,279 COVID-19 cases, 6,574 deaths and 6.8 million completed tests. The state on Monday and Tuesday did not post a weekly update of recovered which stood at 404,488 on week earlier.

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