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Three additional COVID-19 deaths make 13 this week in Rowan County

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — County health officials on Friday reported three additional COVID-19 deaths during an exceptionally deadly week during which more than a dozen deaths were reported.

A total of 13 deaths were reported this week, with Thursday setting a record-high of eight deaths reported in one day. Two of Friday’s deaths are among community members outside of congregate care facilities — a number that has risen steadily as the positivity rate continues to climb, signaling a critical level of community spread.

Nine of this week’s 13 deaths are among community members outside of congregate care facilities, with non-congregate deaths now making up 87 of the 189 total deaths reported in the county.

The remaining death reported on Friday comes from Autumn Care, which reports 15 deaths total.

Additionally, two deaths were reported this week at Compass Health in Spencer, which reports a total of two deaths; one at the N.C. State Veterans Home, which reports 16 deaths; One at Trinity Oaks Health and Rehab, which is now at 10 deaths; one at Accordius Health, which reports eight deaths; and one at Bethamy Retirement Center, which reports three deaths.

Other facilities with active COVID-19 outbreaks include Brightmoor Nursing Center, the Citadel, the Laurels, Trinity Oaks Retirement Center, Big Elm Rehabilitation and Living Center and Piedmont Correctional Institute, according to county and state data.

On Friday, state health officials declared over an outbreak at the Meadows of Rockwell Retirement Center, located at 612 China Grove Highway in Rockwell. An outbreak of five positive residents was first declared there on Nov. 3 before growing to nearly 30 positive staff members at the conclusion of its outbreak Friday. A total of two deaths have been reported there.

The average age among all local deaths is 79.

Also this week, the county’s positivity rate rose to 10.07% after at least 101,548 tests completed. Last week, the rate sat at 9.43% after 93,558 tests had been conducted. There have been 9,941 cases since March. Of those, nearly 40% of cases are currently active, while 5,787 have recovered. The average age among positive cases is 44.2.

Additionally, while 27 Rowan Countians are currently being hospitalized for the virus, 91 of the 115 beds allocated for COVID-19 patients in the county are occupied along with seven of the 61 available ventilators. Those beds and ventilators can serve patients from outside the county seeking care here.

A total of 339 Rowan Countians have been hospitalized for the virus since March, with an average age of 65 among them.

Currently, Rowan County ranks 19th in the state for most reported cases, and sixth for most reported deaths. Additionally, the county, along with its neighbors, is among the 84 counties colored red in the state’s county alert system, which denotes a critical level of spread. Over the last 14 days, the county has reported a rate of 1,214.7 cases per 100,000 residents as well as a 14-day percent positive rate of 17.8%. The impact on hospitals locally, however, remains low.

For another consecutive week, the state reported a record-high increase in cases. On Thursday, 10,398 additional cases were reported. And after another increase of more than 10,000 cases on Friday, that amounts to a total of 602,774 North Carolinians who have tested positive. Meanwhile, 3,960 North Carolinians are currently being hospitalized across the state, while 7,328 have died.

While Friday’s statewide positivity rate was 13.9%, the overall percent positive rate for the entire pandemic sits at 8.2% with 7.35 million tests conducted to date.

“More than 10,000 new cases two days in a row. Record-high hospitalization numbers this week. COVID-19 is spreading at a dangerous pace,” said Gov. Roy Cooper in a tweet Friday. “Treat it like the serious threat that it is. Keep your mask on and think carefully about how to reduce your risk.”

As a result of the growing number of cases, positivity rate and hospitalizations, Cooper this week extended the current modified stay-at-home order until Jan. 29. That order requires North Carolinians to stay home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless conducting essential business like going to and from work or picking up groceries or prescriptions.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen also issued a secretarial directive this week instructing North Carolinians to stay home except for essential activities and avoid gatherings, especially indoors, with people who don’t live within the same household.

Also this week, county health officials began mass vaccination of individuals who qualify for phase 1b, which includes adults aged 75 and older, regardless of their health status. Amy Smith, the county’s health education specialist and wellness coordinator, said about 600 vaccinations were administered in total on Wednesday and Thursday.

Vaccinations will continue next week starting Monday at 9:30 a.m. at the West End Plaza, located at 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd. West. No appointment is needed, and the vaccine is free. However, public health workers are filing health insurance claims to cover administrative costs. If someone does not have a form of insurance, they will still receive the vaccine at no cost.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246. 

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