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Rowan County’s COVID-19 case total ranks No. 1 in state

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Health Department says local spikes in cases and hospitalizations show one of the fastest accelerations of COVID-19 spread in North Carolina.

Triple-digit increases in COVID-19 positives are a daily occurrence, including some days with more than 200 new cases reported. In the previous two weeks, Rowan County’s per capita case count is the highest of any in North Carolina. With 1,783 positives per 100,000 residents in Rowan County, only smaller population counties such as Cherokee and Graham come close.

“We are experiencing one of the fastest accelerations in cases and hospitalizations in our region and in the state,” the Rowan County Health Department said in a news release. “It is important that we continue to share with you that the COVID-19 vaccines are remarkably effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalizations and death, even against the widely circulating delta variant— vaccines are without a doubt the best way to protect yourself, the ones you love, and those that you may come in contact with throughout our community.”

Cherokee County, the westernmost county in the state, has recorded 492 positives in the previous two weeks. Graham County, also in western North Carolina, has seen 150 positives in the previous two weeks. Both numbers are far lower than Rowan County’s total of 2,533 positives during the same period, but both of the western N.C. counties have a much smaller population, too. Adjusted for population, Graham County has 1,777 positives per 100,000 residents. Cherokee County has 1,720 positives per 100,000 residents.

Among other locations, COVID-19 vaccines are available to walk-ins at the J.F. Hurley YMCA on Jake Alexander Boulevard in Salisbury from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday and Fridays. The site is offering a third shot to people who are immunocompromised.

COVID-19 vaccines are also available at chain pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens, grocery stores such as Walmart and Food Lion, the Health Department and provider offices such as Rowan Diagnostic Clinic, Pro Med and Salisbury Pediatric.

Testing for COVID-19 also is widely available, including by appointment at the Rowan County Health Department from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Other locations include Cabarrus Rowan Community Health Centers in China Grove and Spencer, a Fastmed Clinic on Klumac Road, Moose Pharmacy on West Innes Street and The Medicine Shoppe on West Innes Street.

For more local information on COVID-19, visit rowancountync.gov/COVID-19 or call the Health Department’s hotline at 980-432-1800.

After briefly plateauing, the number of COVID-19 patients in Rowan County’s region rose again in Wednesday’s update by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. There are now 882 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the Triad Healthcare Preparedness Coalition — up from 858 the previous day.

There are 57 empty intensive care beds across the region and 1,142 empty hospital beds, according to state data.

Rowan Medical Center is also near its capacity, with data reported to federal authorities this week showing all intensive care beds filled and 186 of 269 total beds filled.

Rowan County is eighth in the state for its number of COVID-19 deaths — 341 — since the start of the pandemic. It’s just behind Buncombe County, which has 343 deaths. There were no new COVID-19 fatalities reported in Rowan on Wednesday.

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