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Albemarle zip code has second-highest number of coronavirus deaths in the state

Out of the more than 1,000 zip codes across North Carolina, one in Stanly County currently has the second-highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the state.

Zip code 28001 in Albemarle has a total of 60 deaths as of Friday morning, according to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services. It’s tied with a zip code in Rowan County (28147). Only a Rocky Mount zip code, 27804, has more deaths with 63.

The Albemarle zip code has 1,497 total cases, including a rate of 528 cases per 10,000 residents. Though other zip codes in the greater Charlotte Metropolitan region have higher case totals due to having larger populations, Albemarle’s rate is one of the highest in the area.

Stanly County Health Director David Jenkins suggested the reason was because the Albemarle zip code is home to at least eight long-term care facilities, where most of the deaths in the county have originated.

“It’s also our most highly dense population in the county,” he added.

A North Carolina map of COVID-19 cases is updated daily based on cumulative numbers of county-level COVID-19 cases and deaths reported by DHHS, so it’s possible that other zip codes could supplant Albemarle’s death total in the coming days.

Aside from Albemarle, here is how the other municipalities in the county are faring with the coronavirus, according to zip code:

  • New London (28127): 661 cases and six deaths;
  • Norwood (28128): 357 cases and five deaths;
  • Locust (28097): 280 case and zero deaths;
  • Oakboro (28129): 224 cases and four deaths;
  • Stanfield (28163): 167 cases and one death;
  • Richfield (28137): 141 cases and one death; and
  • There was no available data for Badin (28009).

Cases continue to rapidly increase in Stanly County and the state 

Stanly County also surpassed a grim milestone on Wednesday. The county passed the 500 active case mark for the first time since the pandemic began in March with a reported 528 active cases, according to data from the county health department. That’s almost seven times the number of active cases in the beginning of November, when there were less than 80. The total number of active cases decreased slightly to 496 on Thursday.

The county currently has 3,499 cumulative cases with 85 people having died as of Thursday. A total of 2,918 individuals who had the virus have recovered while more than 22,000 residents have been tested.

Stanly’s rolling seven-day average positivity rate is at 12 percent, per the health department, which matches the overall state average.

Stanly County Schools reported that from Nov. 25 through Dec. 2, 20 students and 11 staff members were positive with the coronavirus, an increase from the 18 students and four staff members who were positive the week before.

Jenkins estimates that the recent spike in cases is likely due to the Thanksgiving holiday, when people gathered indoors with family and friends.

“We’ve seen that (increases in cases) previously with other holidays,” Jenkins said.

“This virus is airborne and is passed on through respiration,” he said. “That’s why we see the cases tend to trend up after the holidays and that’s exactly what we’re seeing now.”

Even though people can feel safe traveling to visit family and friends during the holidays, Jenkins encourages residents to still wear masks, wash their hands and practice social distancing as needed.

“If folks wear a mask and stand at least six feet apart, there’s a less than one percent chance of transmitting the virus to someone else,” Jenkins said.

Cases are also increasing quickly across North Carolina. In the state’s color-coded alert system, there are 48 counties now in the red zone signifying critical community spread, more than double the number during the week of Thanksgiving. There are also 34 counties, including Stanly, now in the orange zone signifying substantial community spread. Stanly was at the lowest zone of yellow, signifying significant community spread, the last time the map was updated.

“We’re just not trending in a good direction as a county, as a state, as a nation right now,” Jenkins said. “It’s very troubling.”

Statewide, at least 6,495 new cases were reported on Wednesday, another one-day record, though the total decreased Thursday to 5,556. The state currently has more than 416,000 total cases.

In order to try and limit the further spread of the virus, Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Tuesday a modified stay-at-home order which went into effect at 5 p.m. Dec. 11.

“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 are 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. Cooper said onsite alcohol consumption sales must end at 9 p.m.

The restrictions will last until 5 p.m. Jan. 8, 2021.

Across the country, there are more than 15 million cases with more than 292,000 people having died according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Atrium Health Stanly nearing ICU capacity 

Stanly County currently has 19 people hospitalized Thursday, down from 22 on Wednesday. Though it changes each day, the daily totals were in the single digits a few weeks ago in mid-November. The total accounts for Stanly County patients hospitalized anywhere in the region, not just at Atrium Health Stanly. If people are really sick or need to be intubated, they often will be transported to hospitals in Concord or Charlotte.

In a New York Times analysis of COVID-19 hospital capacity, in terms of available ICU beds, released this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Albemarle is at 87 percent capacity. Atrium Health Stanly in Albemarle has a total of ten ICU beds — 9 of which are full, according to the Times’ analysis.

When looking at the total number of hospital beds available, Albemarle is much better at 59 percent capacity.

Albemarle has the second-highest capacity percentage in the region, behind only Monroe, with has 97 percent of its ICU beds occupied. In other nearby cities, 84 percent of ICU beds are occupied in Salisbury, 73 percent are occupied in Concord and 81 percent are occupied in Charlotte.

At least 2,444 patients were hospitalized with the coronavirus Wednesday in North Carolina — marking the eighth day in a row of record-breaking hospitalizations, per DHHS data.

If hospitalizations continue to increase at its current pace, North Carolina is on track to run out of ICU beds for those patients in 4.5 weeks, according to a new report by The Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at UNC which analyzed recent hospital capacity in the state.

Hospitalizations in the Charlotte area, which include Atrium Health Stanly in Albemarle, have been growing at nearly 21 percent in recent weeks, according to the Sheps Center report. The Charlotte area currently has 1,048 acute beds available while 677 are occupied by COVID-19 patients.

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.

 

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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