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Stanly passes 550 Covid cases

At least 553 people have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Friday, including 152 cases which are currently active, according to the county health department.

The department on Friday reported an additional 15 cases, down from the 23 cases the day before.

The death total has remained at five people for several weeks while 11 people are currently hospitalized, though not all of them are at Atrium Health Stanly. A total of 401 people have recovered from the virus.

The percentage of tests that have come back positive is 8 percent, below the statewide total of 10 percent. An estimated 6,333 people have been tested.

David Jenkins, director of the health department, said the health department has only tested a small percentage of the population. He hypothesized that there could potentially be thousands of people in the county who are positive but simply haven’t been tested.

The rapid increase in the amount of cases in Stanly County has been most pronounced over the past month. The county has experienced a 357 percent increase since June 10, when there were only 121 reported cases.

Stanly’s three highest one-day case totals since the pandemic began several months ago occurred over the past few weeks — on June 22, 43 cases were reported, on June 27, there were 25 cases, and on July 3, 26 cases were reported, according to data compiled by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Much of the increase over the last several weeks has come from Albemarle Correctional Institution, where 96 inmates and 17 staff members have tested positive for the virus.

There have been seven other outbreaks in the county which have occurred at residential care facilities and nursing homes.

Given that the incubation period for COVID-19, which is the time between exposure to the virus and developing systems, is usually five to seven days, the health department is anticipating an increase in cases soon from July 4 and vacation activities, said Wendy Growcock, public health education specialist with the health department.

“As we interview people through our contact tracing efforts, we find that gatherings with friends and family continue to be a source of exposure to COVID-19,”  Growcock said.

The department continues to emphasize for people to wear masks in public, regularly wash hands and maintain proper social distance to help reduce the spread of the virus.

“We’re continuing to do our work to try and mitigate any deaths and the spread of the virus, but people have to take personal responsibility as well to protect themselves and their families,” Jenkins said.

According to a Harvard University interactive COVID risk assessment map, which charts coronavirus risks by state and county according to the number of new cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days, Stanly ranks ninth in the state as of Friday with 20.5 new cases per day, an improvement from Thursday, when the county was ranked sixth in the state with 23.4 new cases per day.

Stanly has less confirmed cases than all of its surrounding counties, many which are larger, except Anson (182) and Montgomery (376).

At least 81,331 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 1,479 have died, according to data from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. More than 1.1 million tests have also been completed. The state had its second-highest one day total on Thursday, when 2,039 cases were reported.

The number of people reported hospitalized with the coronavirus in North Carolina reached another single-day high on Friday, with 1,046.

The demographic numbers have stayed relatively constant in Stanly, with people ages 25 to 49 being the group most likely to contract the virus (42 percent of all cases) followed by those ages 50 to 64 (25 percent). White people have accounted for 65 percent of cases, followed by Black people with 30 percent.

Albemarle leads the county with around 248 cases, followed by Norwood with roughly 58 cases and Oakboro with 40 cases, according to the DHHS data.

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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