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Stanly approaches 1,800 coronavirus cases, still ranks 4th in state in cases per capita

As the state continues to see daily coronavirus cases gradually decrease, Stanly County is still a hot spot in the state, according to multiple indicators.

With an estimated 284 cases per 10,000 residents, the county has the state’s fourth highest rate in cases per capita in the state, according to data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Only Robeson (317 cases), Duplin (362) and Montgomery (371) have more cases per capita.

The county has 1,798 cumulative cases, with 20 people hospitalized and 57 people having died as a result of the coronavirus as of Thursday, according to data from the county health department. There were 263 active cases and 1,478 people who had the virus have recovered. More than 13,000 people have been tested.

“I worry about my community,” said Albemarle physician Jenny Hinson, who emailed her thoughts to the Stanly News & Press. “I think folks are exhausted by the virus. They tried really hard, but it doesn’t let up.”

Hinson compared the state’s increasing numbers to a fire, saying “the higher the numbers, the faster it spreads.”

She encouraged the community to continue practicing safe habits, such as wearing masks when out in public.

“Masks decrease spread, and may make the infection less severe if you do catch it,” she said. “Don’t pull them down to speak, or below your nose.

She added that “face shields alone are better than nothing, but not as good as masks” and that “outside is safer than indoors, smaller groups safer than large, shorter gatherings safer than long ones.”

The county’s positivity rate — which is the percentage of all coronavirus tests performed that are actually positive — is 7.4 percent, according to NCDHHS, which is higher than the state’s overall rate of 5.6 percent. The percent positive is a key measure for any community, according to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, because it gives an indication about how widespread the infection is in a given area. Johns Hopkins notes that if the percent positive in a community is more than 5 percent then it is considered “too high.”

Wendy Growcock, public health education specialist with the health department, said Stanly’s positivity rate is trending in the right direction considering it was deemed a “county of concern” in July, when it’s seven day rolling average was near 13 percent.

“We’ve come a long way in Stanly County,” she said.

Stanly has five outbreaks inside congregate living facilities, the largest of which is at the Albemarle Correctional Institution where 315 inmates have tested positive and three have died. That is the second largest outbreak in the state prison system behind only Neuse Correctional Institution in Goldsboro, which has had 466 cases. An outbreak is defined as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases.

The other outbreaks, according to NCDHHS data, include Stanly Manor with 75 cases and six deaths; Woodhaven Court with 72 cases and five deaths; Trinity Place with 56 cases and eight deaths; Bethany Woods with 40 cases; and Forrest Oakes Healthcare Center with 37 cases and seven deaths.

David Jenkins, director of the Stanly County Health Department, said he expects there will be a likely uptick in cases sometime next week due to interactions that took place during the Labor Day weekend. It can take up to two weeks after initial exposure to the virus for some people to begin exhibiting symptoms. He said there were previous spikes in cases in the weeks following other recent holidays such as Memorial Day and Fourth of July.

In the past several weeks, the county has experienced its top three highest single-day cases totals — 68 on Aug. 12, 62 on Aug. 6 and 53 on Sept. 4.

A total of 204 patients in the 13-county Metrolina Region, which includes Stanly, are hospitalized with COVID-19. Twenty-one were admitted within the past 24 hours (as of Friday morning), and 82 suspected of having COVID-19 had been admitted in that time, with 100 percent of hospitals reporting. Hospitals in the region had 59 adult patients in ICUs.

Albemarle continues to lead the county with around 825 cases and 43 deaths, followed by New London with 442 cases and three deaths, Norwood with roughly 134 cases and two deaths, Locust with 103 cases and Oakboro with 102 cases and two deaths, according to NCDHHS data.

Statewide, there have been more than 2.7 million tests conducted resulting in 189,576 cases. A total of 894 people are hospitalized, while 3,180 people have died.

Drive-in COVID-19 testing is available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Stanly County Commons. To be eligible for a test, a person must have had contact with someone who tested positive, interacted in a large group or exhibits coronavirus symptoms, according to the health department.

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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