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January 18, 2021

UPDATED: Officials warn about case spike from holiday weekend after highest one-day increase of positive tests

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY — Going into the holiday weekend, state and county health officials warned positive cases may continue to rise if people don’t adhere to wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.

Friday marked the state’s highest one-day increase of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 2,099 cases reported. Hospitalizations also hit a record high, with 951 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state.

“We are seeing significant spread of the virus and it is very concerning,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen. “Today, we have the highest reported day of new cases and hospitalizations — and that should be a warning to us all as we go into this holiday weekend. We don’t get a holiday from COVID-19. We all need to wear a face covering, avoid crowds and wash our hands often.”

Of Friday’s newly reported cases, 11% were positive among labs that report both negative and positive tests into the state electronic reporting system — the highest percentage North Carolina has seen since late April when the state was doing more targeted testing.

Rowan County spokesperson TJ Brown said while the community and state have seen more testing in the previous month, testing is not the only reason the county is seeing a spike in cases. Overall, the county conducted 3% more tests in June than April, but there were 16% more positive cases in June compared to April.

Brown said he compared April to June because testing options were not yet widespread and readily available in April.

Rowan County Public Health director Nina Oliver said the majority of investigations into positive cases often link back to mass gatherings at cookouts, weddings and family events, adding that cases will continue to rise if guidance is not followed. Oliver said the state has now reached an average where about 9% of all tests are positive cases. Over the past few months, that number hovered closer to 3-4%.

“We really shouldn’t be up there,” she said.

An additional 55 tests were reported in the county on Friday, and 131 more were reported Saturday, for a total of 7,259. The county reached a full two weeks of double-digit increase in cases, after a 22-person increase Friday and a 12-person increase Saturday. A total of 1,295 have tested positive in Rowan County.

The number of currently positive cases in Rowan County on Saturday rose to 289 after previously decreasing. Recoveries only grew by one Friday and were unchanged Saturday. Recoveries are now at 963.

The total number of deaths remains at 43, with all but six from congregate care facilities. The number of positive cases at congregate care facilities remains at 228 as well.

Hospitalizations among county residents are now at 21 people.

Statewide, the case increase was smaller on Saturday than the record number one day earlier. An addition 1,413 people were reported positive Saturday, adding to a total that now stands at 71,654. There have been 1.02 million tests completed. A total of 945 people are being hospitalized and 1,395 people have died across the state.

Hispanic residents of the county continue to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, as 438 have tested positive. That amounts to 33.82% of all cases. A total of 801 white residents have tested positive, along with 180 Black residents, five Asian residents, three American Indian or Alaskan Native residents and one Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. There are 126 labeled unknown and 179 who are “other.”

The average age of positive cases has been dropping for weeks as younger age groups are testing positive more frequently, and stood at 43.8 on Saturday. Those aged 18-35 comprise the plurality of cases in the county, at 393. They are followed by those aged 36-50, at 325. Those older than 65 represent 246 cases. The 51-64 age bracket represents 209 cases. And a total of 122 people under the age of 18 have tested positive for COVID-19.

A total of 670 men have tested positive and 625 women have tested positive.

Zip code 28147 remains the area with the most positive cases at 461, followed by zip code 28144 at 290 and 28146 at 179 cases.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.


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