COVID cases top 400

Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, June 30, 2020

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Stanly County hit another milestone in the battle against the coronavirus Tuesday.

The health department reports 402 confirmed cases — 106 of them active. Recovered people are at 291, with five deaths.

“Through our contact tracing we often find that people are exposed to COVID-19 through gatherings with friends and family,” said Wendy Growcock, public health education specialist, Stanly County Health Department. “We continue to recommend that people wash their hands often, stay 6 feet away from others when possible, and wear a face covering as required by the state.”

While the county still trails behind many neighboring counties (Rowan, Cabarrus and Union all have passed the 1,000 case mark, with Mecklenburg above 10,000), Stanly has seen a rapid increase over the past month in the number of total cases as more people have left their homes and state guidelines have relaxed.

According to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, which charts the number of daily reported cases for each county since March, Stanly’s first significant uptick in cases came a few days after Memorial Day on May 30, when there were 15 cases.

While some of the explanation for the increase in cases is due to an increase in testing, nearly 10 percent of all tests have come back positive, according to data from the state’s Health and Human Services.

Marietta Abernathy, chief nurse executive at Atrium Health Stanly, said the recent uptick in cases across the county is “concerning.” She encourages people to continue social distancing and wear protective face coverings, especially with the Fourth of July holiday coming up.

Due to patient privacy and HIPAA regulations, Abernathy could not disclose information about how many coronavirus patients are hospitalized.

Regarding the hospital, Abernathy said it has enough personal protective equipment along with available beds and ventilators to meet patients’ needs.

“We have seen an increase in patient volume, but we have the supplies and resources needed to take care of them,” she said.

There have also been several outbreaks in congregate living settings. An outbreak in these settings is defined by the state as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases.

Albemarle Correctional Institution has recently undergone mass testing and has found that 75 inmates have contracted the virus. An additional 12 staff members have tested positive and all but one has recovered and returned to work.

Bethany Woods Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Stanly Manor, Woodhaven Court Assisted Living and Memory Care and Spring Arbor Assisted Living in Albemarle, along with two Monarch group homes, have also had residents or staff contract the virus.

During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, NCDHHS secretary Mandy Cohen announced that DHHS has begun proactive testing of all staff and residents in nursing homes. She said testing has been completed for those in state-run nursing homes. Beginning next week, DHHS will pay for and deploy proactive testing for staff and residents at all private nursing homes.

At least 63,484 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus (including 1,186 on Tuesday) and 1,343 have died, according to data from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. More than 910,033 tests have been completed, with nine percent coming back positive.

With the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, Cohen urged citizens “to make sure you are planning for ways to celebrate that involve wearing a face covering, avoiding large crowds and washing your hands often.”

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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