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July 4, 2020

County continues to see double-digit increase in cases; state to test all nursing homes

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The county on Tuesday reported an additional 23 people tested positive for COVID-19 and three additional people were being hospitalized.

That makes the 10th day in a row that the county has seen a double-digit increase in new cases.

Recoveries, though, also grew on Tuesday, and the number of currently positive cases is now at 319. With an additional 13 recovered, the county’s total is 860.

A total of 1,222 people have tested positive in Rowan County after 6,780 tests have been reported. A total of 20 people are being hospitalized, with an average age of 63, and 43 people have died. Of those deaths, 21 were from the Citadel, 15 were from the N.C. State Veterans Home, one was from Liberty Commons and six weren’t associated with a congregate care facility. There are 228 cases at local congregate care facilities.

The average age of positive cases has been dropping for weeks as younger age groups are testing positive more frequently. The average age of cases is now at 44.2. Those aged 18-35 comprise the plurality of cases in the county, at 365. They are followed by those aged 36-50, at 308. Those older than 65 represent 237 cases. The 51-64 age bracket represents 199 cases. And a total of 113 people under the age of 18 have tested positive for COVID-19.

On Thursday, county health officials will provide free masks to Rowan County residents from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the West End Plaza, located at 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd W.

Statewide, a total of 64,670 people have tested positive after 910,033 completed tests. A total of 908 are currently being hospitalized, and 1,343 people have died.

State health officials also announced on Tuesday that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will partner with Omnicare, a CVS Health company, to make facility-wide testing available to residents and staff in all state skilled nursing facilities. Testing will begin in July and continue through August.

There are more than 400 nursing homes in the state with about 36,000 residents and 30,000 staff.

NCDHHS already recommends that nursing homes with one or more cases test all staff and residents. This initiative further makes testing available to all nursing homes to conduct a baseline test of all residents and staff, officials say.

“While testing is a key component of our COVID-response strategy, it is important to remember that the actions we take as a result of that testing are most important,” said Dr. Susan Kansagra, the NCDHHS section chief of Chronic Disease and Injury. “Testing will enable our skilled nursing facilities to identify positive cases earlier and better determine additional infection prevention and control measures necessary to contain spread.”

CVS Health will bill insurance as possible, and NCDHHS will cover any additional costs for testing. Facilities should continue to follow recommendations from the CDC for repeat testing and work with community and private vendors to support ongoing testing needs.

Hispanic residents of Rowan County continue to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, as 384 have tested positive. That amounts to 31.42% of all cases. A total of 679 white residents have tested positive, along with 162 Black residents, four Asian residents, three American Indian or Alaskan Native residents and one Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. There are 222 labeled unknown and 151 who are “other.”

A total of 635 men have tested positive and 587 women have tested positive.

Zip code 28147 remains the area with the most positive cases at 449, followed by zip code 28144 at 280 and 28146 at 156 cases.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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