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Three new deaths, 102 positives reported

SALISBURY — Rowan County on Wednesday reported three new COVID-19 deaths and 102 new positives.

The deaths occurred outside of congregate living facilities in the county, and no further information was immediately released about the individuals.

There have now been 167 deaths this year from COVID-19, with an average age of 79 among them. Most deaths have occurred in nursing homes or congregate living facilities, but there have been 73 deaths outside of the facilities.

The deaths reported Wednesday were the first since Christmas Eve, when the county said one person died.

Daily case increases, meanwhile, have been more erratic than usual, as testing opportunities decreased with the Christmas holiday. The increase of 102 on Wednesday brings the total number of COVID-19 positives in Rowan County to 8,722, according to Health Department statistics.

With 5,580 and the current death toll factored in, there are 2,975 active cases, or roughly 34% of the total reported this year.

There were no new congregate living cases added to Rowan County’s total on Wednesday and no additional outbreaks. Data from the N.C. Department of Public Safety states there are seven inmates with active COVID-19 cases at Piedmont Correction Institute.

Because of a technical error, tests reported Wednesday were higher than they would have been otherwise. The number of new cases reported Wednesday — 8,551 — reflected 36 hours of data. Meanwhile, data reported Thursday will only include 12 hours of data, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said.

The state is now reporting 532,830 total cases since the start of the pandemic, 3,339 hospitalizations and 6,729 deaths. There have been 6.84 million tests conducted in the state.

Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday said that, while testing was down over the holidays, the state has seen the highest number ever of people in the hospital and record-high percent positives.

“I’m asking every North Carolinian to double down on our prevention efforts and protect each other by wearing a mask, being responsible, following the protocols and making good decisions,” Cooper said.

He also used a Wednesday news conference to announce that he had extended the state’s eviction moratorium through Jan. 31 and that more than 21,000 renters so far have been notified they’ll receive $37.4 million in help through the HOPE Program, which aims to help struggling renters and landlords.

Cooper said the state remains in phase 1a of vaccinations, which includes frontline health care workers as well as staff and residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. He said Wednesday phase 1B will include anyone older than 75 as well as essential workers, health care workers and frontline essential workers of any age. There could be up to 2 million in the state’s 1b category.

So far, 63,571 people in North Carolina have received the first dose of a vaccine. That includes 275 in Rowan County.

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