Stanly experiencing record number of active coronavirus cases as Cooper announces new stay-at-home order

Published 3:47 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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Similar to what’s occurring in many other parts of the state, Stanly County is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations and just surpassed more than 450 active cases, the highest one-day total on record, according to available data.

As of Monday evening, the county recorded 454 active cases, according to the county health department, a 40 percent increase compared to Friday, when Stanly had only 325 active cases. Over the past month, the county has experienced a rapid increase in cases. They have increased sixfold since the beginning of November when there were less than 80 active cases.

In addition to active cases, hospitalizations have also quickly escalated. There are 22 people in Stanly who are in the hospital, the highest total since Oct. 9, when 23 people were in the hospital. Though it changes each day, the daily totals were in the single digits a few weeks ago in mid-November.

Since the pandemic first began in March, Stanly has a cumulative total of 3,317 cases, with three people having become reinfected with the virus and 82 people having died. A total of 2,781 people who had the virus have since recovered while more than 21,500 people have been tested.

Stanly’s positivity rate is currently at 9.2 percent, which is slightly lower than the state average of 9.7 percent.

With new cases increasing across the state — a record 6,438 new cases were reported Sunday — Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Tuesday a modified stay-at-home order which will go into effect Friday at 5 p.m.

“Our new modified stay-at-home order aims to limit gatherings and get people home where they are safer, especially during the holidays,” he said.

People will be required to stay at home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and most businesses, including restaurants and retail stores, will be required to close by 10 p.m. The order will run through Jan. 8.

In the state’s color-coded alert system, only 18 counties are yellow showing significant community spread. There are now 34 orange counties signifying substantial community spread, of which Stanly is included, and 48 red counties signifying critical community spread.

Atrium Health Stanly still has capacity 

Stanly County Health Director David Jenkins told the county commissioners on Monday that though some coronavirus patients are treated at Atrium Health Stanly, those who have to be intubated or need longer-term care are often transferred to hospitals in Concord or Charlotte.

Jenkins said the average cost for each coronavirus patient to spend about a week in the hospital is about $73,300, though some of the costs are reimbursed through Medicaid and Medicare.

Atrium Health Stanly currently has 57 licensed beds of which 10 are intensive care unit beds, Jenkins said, adding that the hospital can increase its capacity if needed.

“At this point in time, they are managing well,” he said. “As far as I know, they have capacity which is a good thing.”

The Stanly News & Press reached out to Atrium Health for more information regarding bed capacity at Atrium Health Stanly. Kate Gaier, a spokeswoman with Atrium, said that “Stanly, like many rural areas, has seen a recent uptick in the number of COVID cases. And, as a result, Atrium Health Stanly has seen an increase in the number of COVID positive and non-COVID positive patients admitted. We continue to strongly encourage people to abide by the precautions shared since the beginning of the pandemic. Everyone needs to wear a mask when outside the home, wash hands frequently and observe an appropriate social distance from others. ”

Hospitalizations increasing across the state 

Hospitalizations in the Charlotte area, which include Atrium Health Stanly in Albemarle, have been growing at nearly 21 percent, slightly higher than the state average of 20 percent, according to researchers at The Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at UNC who recently published a four-page report analyzing hospital capacity in the state. The Charlotte area currently has 1,048 acute beds available while 677 are occupied by COVID-19 patients.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in North Carolina on a given day has more than doubled since mid-October. On Tuesday, it hit a new high of 2,373, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

If the current increase in COVID-19 patients needing hospitalizations continues, the state would begin to reach capacity of hospital beds in about six weeks, according to the Sheps Center report. If current trends hold, the report projects that the supply of intensive care unit beds could run out sooner, in around five weeks.

The report lists other scenarios that could happen if the current increase in hospitalizations change. A faster rate of increase (32 percent) would mean hitting capacity in four weeks, while a slower growth rate (9.7 percent) would mean hitting capacity in 12 weeks.

There have been almost more than 5.6 million tests conducted in the state resulting in 404,032 cases. A total of 5,605 people have died.



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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