Three new COVID-19 deaths reported in Stanly for first time in more than three weeks

After going more than three weeks without any deaths attributed to COVID-19, Stanly County added three new deaths over the weekend, according to data from the county health department, bringing its cumulative total since the pandemic began to 132.

It is only the fourth recorded death related to the virus this month and the first since March 5. So far this year, there have been 42 deaths in the county due to COVID.

Albemarle has accounted for roughly 60 percent of the county’s total deaths with 79, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, which keeps a running total of cases and deaths for each zip code in the state. Following Albemarle are Norwood and New London with nine and eight deaths, respectively. They account for almost 13 percent of the total deaths.

Many of the deaths in Stanly County have stemmed from nursing homes and long-term care facilities, many of which are located in Albemarle. There are two current outbreaks in Stanly that have resulted in multiple deaths, according to data from DHHS: 15 deaths have come from Stanly Manor while 10 have come from Bethany Woods.

The state defines outbreaks as two or more positive cases identified through a positive molecular (PCR) or positive antigen test result. An outbreak is considered over if there is not evidence of continued transmission within the facility. This is measured, per the state, as 28 days after the latest date of onset in a symptomatic person or the first date of specimen collection from the most recent asymptomatic person.

Most of Stanly’s neighboring counties have higher numbers of deaths due to COVID, but they also have a greater population. When comparing Stanly to its four peer counties with similar population sizes, only Moore County has more deaths at 188. The other three all have at least around 40 less deaths. (Haywood County is closest to Stanly with 94.)

Stanly’s first documented COVID-19 death occurred on April 9, 2020, about a month into the pandemic, and for the most part, new deaths (typically between one to four) have been reported consistently every few days since.

The death total began to accelerate during the summer months, especially August, which accounted for 32 deaths, the most during any month, according to health department data. The largest one-day total in new cases occurred on July 27, when the health department reported an additional six cases.

The second-highest monthly total for deaths occurred in January, with 24, likely the result of the post-holiday surge from late December. The monthly numbers have declined since then, with only 13 in February and four in March.