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August 8, 2020

Thousands of negative tests added to local COVID-19 total

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Following the addition of thousands of previously uncounted negative tests, Rowan County’s rate of positive cases stood at 9.37% on Thursday — slightly higher than the state rate of 8%.

County health officials say they will begin updating the data hub weekly with a current rate of positive cases by using the total number of tests conducted. Due to the discrepancy in state and county’s data on reported tests, Thursday’s update from the county showed a significant jump in the number of negative tests and total tests conducted. Of the 20,992 tests conducted in the county, 19,026 have been negative.

County spokesperson TJ Brown said not all laboratories reported negative tests when testing in the county began, which resulted in the count of tests reported being significantly lower than what was being conducted. Additionally, while the county updated reported tests daily, the state could only provide updated numbers once a week.

“As we reviewed our data published on the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website, it became clear that our method for capturing negative test results for display on our hub was only capturing a portion of those results,” Brown said in a statement. “After conversations with NCDHHS staff, it was determined that the only way we would be able to accurately report negative results would be to report them on a weekly basis.”

Brown also said that the Rowan County Health Department conducted a total of 349 tests last week and has averaged 223 tests per week since June 1. Those numbers only include the county health department because county health officials don’t have access to private lab databases, where a significant number of testing results are kept.

Also on Thursday, one additional person not associated with a congregate care facility died of COVID-19, which brought the local total to 50 deaths. All but 13 have been from local congregate care facilities, with 21 from the Citadel, 15 from N.C. State Veterans Home and one from Liberty Commons. The average age among the deceased is 80.

A total of 1,966 people have tested positive for COVID-19 as recoveries and the number of currently positive cases continues to improve. Recoveries rose by 52 on Thursday and are now at 1,674, while the number of currently positive cases declined by 24 and is now at 242.

Current hospitalizations grew by one on Thursday and are now at 13.

Thursday’s local update also included an update on the number of beds being used for COVID-19 patients in the county. A total of 103 beds are available, and 39 are currently being used, while six of the 61 available ventilators are currently in use. These numbers are updated weekly by Novant Health Rowan Medical Center and the W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center.

Across the state, a total of 120,194 cases have been confirmed after 1.72 million completed tests. A total of 1,239 people are being hospitalized, and 1,903 people have died.

In other local COVID-19 statistics:

  • Cases at congregate care facilities remains at 240.
  • COVID-19 continues to disproportionately affect Hispanic residents of the county at 29.40%, or 578 cases. That’s despite Hispanic residents only composing less than 10% of the county’s population. A total of 1,065 white residents have tested positive, along with 260 Black residents, five Asian residents, six American Indian/Alaskan Native residents and one Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander resident. A total of 345 cases are categorized “unknown,” while 284 are other.
  • The average age of positive cases is at 41.9, with a plurality of cases among those aged 18-35, at 629. Residents aged 36-50 comprise 483 cases, while 352 are among the 51-64 age group and 300 are among those older than 65. The number of cases among children continues to rise and is now at 202.
  • A total of 1,001 women have tested positive, followed by 965 among men.
  • Zip code 28147 remains the area with the most cases at 617, followed by 423 cases among the 28144 area and 294 cases among the 28146 area.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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