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Rowan moves to lowest tier for COVID-19 community spread

SALISBURY — With new COVID-19 positives coming much slower, Rowan County on Wednesday joined the majority of the state in being classified in the lowest tier for community spread.

The state’s color-coded alert system has critical, substantial and significant categories for COVID-19 spread. Only Randolph County remained in the critical category. There are 17 counties in the substantial category. The remainder of North Carolina’s 100 counties, including Rowan and all adjacent communities, are in the significant category.

Rowan County falls in the lowest category because the percent of tests returning positive is less than 8% and there’s a low impact on county hospitals. With 359 new positives in the previous two weeks, Rowan County fits the criteria for the higher categories, but its percent of tests returning positive is 6.5%.

There were 28 new positives reported Wednesday and no new deaths.

The total number of vaccinations administered improved by 103, with 18,950 local residents partially vaccinated (13.3%) for COVID-19 and 13,427 fully vaccinated (9.4%).

Both numbers are below the state average and that of surrounding counties. For first doses administered per capita, Rowan County finds itself near the bottom of the state — in a group with counties that include Mecklenburg, Cabarrus and Randolph. Only Hoke and Onslow counties have lower percentages of their population partially vaccinated for COVID-19.

State data do not include vaccinations administered by the Salisbury VA or in nursing homes as part of the federal government’s program.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen on Wednesday said the state’s allocation of vaccine doses has doubled in the previous two months — from 120,000 to 240,000 per week. Cohen said during a news conference state officials expect the supply to continue increasing. State leaders also touted a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about vaccinations measured by the institution’s social vulnerability index, which uses a number of social factors, including poverty, lack of vehicle access and crowded housing. The report shows North Carolina ranking 10th.

Rowan County is starting a vaccination program for homebound individuals, with criteria requiring people to live in the county, meet a definition of being homebound set by Medicare and certify they are not participating because of transportation problems. To get more information about the homebound vaccination service, people can contact 980-432-1800, select option No. 1 and let call center staff know they’re interested in the homebound COVID-19 vaccine service.

Hospitalization numbers have been relatively flat in the previous week, with 244 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Rowan County’s region — the Triad Health Care Preparedness Coalition. Of those, 30 were admitted in the previous 24 hours.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services says there are four active congregate living outbreaks in Rowan County, including Brightmoor Nursing Center, Compass Assisted Living Rowan, Elmcroft of Salisbury and the Rowan County Detention Center. There are five active COVID-19 cases at Piedmont Correctional Institution in Salisbury.

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