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29 new positives, no new COVID-19 deaths reported

SALISBURY — There were just 29 new COVID-19 positives and no other major changes to the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Rowan County on Thursday.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said in Thursday’s update there have been 14,957 local COVID-19 positives since the start of the pandemic and 597 in the previous two weeks. Rowan County’s number of cases in the previous two weeks is better than Cabarrus and Iredell and worse than other neighboring communities.

The number of COVID-19 deaths reported locally was unchanged at 286.

The number of first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine administered to Rowan residents increased by 94, to a total of 15,743. Second doses increased by 990, to a total of 9,491. The state reports 11.08% of local residents have received a first dose and 6.68% have received the second.

Hospitalizations also continue to improve. Rowan County’s region, the Triad Health Care Preparedness Coalition, reported 278 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Thursday, with 36 admitted in the previous 24 hours.

The improving state of COVID-19 in Rowan county was reflected in the state’s update of its county alert system Thursday. Rowan was downgraded from critical, which is color-coded red, to substantial, which is color-coded orange. That’s a product of the county falling below 10% of its tests coming back positive. Iredell County is the only neighboring community that’s still labeled “critical.”

Just six counties across the state are currently “critical” (red), 34 are “substantial” (orange) and 60 are “significant” (yellow).

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said new COVID-19 cases have declined rapidly in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes or assisted living. As a result, most facilities meet criteria to resume indoor visitation. In a news release, the department said the rapid decline in cases can be attributed to early vaccination prioritization for residents and staff, with more than 205,000 across the state.

The state department also announced it will expand access to COVID-19 rapid testing in K-12 public schools. The tests will be available at no cost to all local education agencies and charter schools to test students and staff who have COVID-19 symptoms. The schools can request tests for all individuals — including students, families and staff — who are symptomatic or had exposure to a positive person as well as a once weekly screening of all adults, including teachers and staff. Testing is not required to provide in-person instruction.

Parent or guardian consent is required prior to testing.

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