As Stanly tops 2,000 cases, Taylor House has first COVID-19 outbreak

Published 9:24 am Wednesday, September 30, 2020

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Stanly County hit a grim milestone earlier this week as it passed 2,000 cumulative coronavirus cases.

It joins the ranks of many nearby counties, including Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Union and Rowan, who have each already surpassed the 2,000 case threshold.

The county has 2,068 cumulative cases, with 30 people hospitalized and 63 people having died as a result of the coronavirus, as of Thursday, according to data from the county health department. There are 389 active cases and 1,618 people who had the virus have recovered. Almost 14,500 tests have been administered.

There were 55 new cases on Sept. 26, according to data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the third highest single-day total since the pandemic first hit the county in March. The only higher totals occurred Aug. 13 (68 cases) and Aug. 6 (62 cases).

While it took Stanly roughly five months to surpass 1,000 total cases, it’s taken less than half the time (roughly two months) to hit the 2,000 case mark.

Stanly received its first confirmed case of the virus March 20, while its first death — a person in their 60s with underlying health conditions — occurred April 9. It surpassed 1,000 cases in early August.

A majority of the cases, 1,571, have been transmitted through human to human contact, while 405 have been transmitted through community spread.

With an estimated 328 cases per 10,000 residents, the county still ranks in the top 10 in the state in cases per capita, according to NCDHHS data. Only six other counties have higher rates, including Montgomery, which has an estimated 386 cases.

Stanly has six current outbreaks inside congregate living facilities, the largest of which is at the Albemarle Correctional Institution where 348 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.

For the first time since the pandemic began, Taylor House is experiencing an outbreak.

Reed VanderSlick, president and CEO of Baptist Retirement Homes, the parent company to Taylor House, confirmed that as of Tuesday morning the facility has nine residents and two employees who have tested positive. The facility has been testing all of its residents and staff since the first cases were discovered almost two weeks ago and will continue to test everyone this week.

The infected residents are being isolated in their rooms and the staff that interact with them are equipped with proper PPE.

“Our first priority is obviously to the residents and employees and their families,” said VanderSlik, “and that’s where our energy and time goes and our prayers and thoughts go out to all of them.”

The other outbreaks, according to NCDHHS data, include Stanly Manor with 75 cases and six deaths; Trinity Place with 56 cases and eight deaths; Bethany Woods with 40 cases; Forrest Oakes Healthcare Center with 47 cases and seven deaths; and Spring Arbor with three cases.

Stanly’s positivity rate, which is the percentage of all coronavirus tests performed that are actually positive, is still a concern. It is currently 8.2 percent, which is higher than the state’s overall rate of 5.3 percent. This means that for every 100 coronavirus tests administered, eight are coming back positive.

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.”

Albemarle continues to lead the county with around 937 cases and 45 deaths, followed by New London with 504 cases and four deaths, Norwood with roughly 168 cases and three deaths, Locust with 122 cases and Oakboro each with 119 cases and three deaths, according to NCDHHS data.

Earlier this week, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan would take effect at 5 p.m. Friday. It allows bars to open outdoors with 30 percent capacity along with movie theaters and conferences also at 30 percent capacity.

Statewide, there have been more than 3 million tests conducted resulting in 212,909 cases. A total of 939 people are hospitalized, while 3,579 people have died.

The demographics continue to stay relatively constant in Stanly, with people ages 25 to 49 being the group most likely to contract the virus (40 percent of all cases) followed by those ages 50 to 64 (24 percent). Children younger than 17 and those ages 18-24 account for 6 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

White people account for the majority of cases at 61 percent followed by Black people with 17 percent of cases, according to data from the health department. Race listed as “unknown” accounts for 19 percent of cases.

Males in the county account for 53 percent of cases while Hispanics, which make up about 4 percent of the county population, account for 8 percent of cases.

The health department tests people outside the Stanly County Commons Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. To schedule an appointment at the Stanly County Health Department drive-in testing site call 704-982-9171.

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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