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County, state set new coronavirus records to start 2021

SALISBURY — The county and state both set new records for COVID-19 spread as the new year began.

Rowan County’s record came New Year’s Day when local health officials reported 278 new positives. One day later and for only the third time, there was another increase of more than 200 cases on Saturday.

Those increases combined with daily recoveries no higher than 26 this week contributed to the spike of active cases from 2,825 to 3,538. There were also nine deaths recorded this week — of which only one occurred in a nursing home or residential care facility.

There have now been 173 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Rowan County, all of which occurred in 2020. Most have occurred in congregate living facilities such as nursing homes.

On Saturday, there were 29 Rowan County residents being hospitalized and 90 of 110 COVID-19 beds being used, which includes people from elsewhere seeking care here. Two of the 61 ventilators available were being used for COVID-19 patients. A total of 338 Rowan Countians have been hospitalized during the pandemic.

Statewide, New Year’s Day also brought a record number of new positives reported — 9,527 — and the increase was only down slightly one day later — 9,356 on Saturday. Other records to start the beginning of 2021 included the number of tests coming back positive, 15.5%, as well as the number of people hospitalized, 3,479.

“We begin 2021 in our most dangerous position in this pandemic. We have critically high rates of spread in much of our state,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen. “I encourage you to avoid getting together indoors with anyone who doesn’t live with you. If you plan to see other people keep it outside and very small. Wear a mask the whole time. We must do all that we can to protect one another.”

In a statement posted online, Gov. Roy Cooper said the numbers “need to be a wake up call.”

More than half of North Carolinians are at risk for a severe case of COVID-19, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Most deaths attributed to COVID-19 have occurred among people with at least one underlying health condition, which could include smoking, obesity, diabetes, lung disease and cardiovascular disease.

The Triad Healthcare Preparedness Coalition — the region that contains Rowan County — continues to have the most people hospitalized with COVID-19. Second is the Metrolina region, which is anchored by Charlotte. In both areas, there are more than 1,000 inpatient hospital beds that are staffed and not being occupied, but there are an additional thousand unstaffed beds in the Triad region, according to state data.

In other COVID-19 statistics:

• There have been 94,063 COVID-19 tests conducted in Rowan County.

• There are 1,131 COVID-19 cases at congregate living facilities, an increase of 21 from the day prior.

• The average age of patients is as follows: 79 for the dead, 65 for the 338 people who have been hospitalized and 44.3 for positive tests.

• The 18-35 age group represent the plurality of cases at 2,538. Next is the 36-50 age group, with 2,132. Other case numbers include: 1,839 positives in the 51-64 age group, 1,826 for those over 65 and 995 for those younger than 18.

• Data municipalities and unincorporated areas largely follow population totals. There have been 4,717 positives in unincorporated areas, 2,744 in Salisbury and 646 cases in the portion of Kannapolis in Rowan County. Of towns in Rowan County, China Grove has seen the most positives at 284.

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