County reports record eight deaths as positivity rate climbs above 10%
By Natalie Anderson
SALISBURY — The state of COVID-19 continues to worsen in Rowan County as health officials reported eight deaths on Thursday along with a positivity rate that surpasses 10%.
Thursday’s death toll is the highest one-day total to date. Previously, the record was at six deaths reported in a single day, both on Sept. 4 and Dec. 23. Five of Thursday’s were among community members not associated with a congregate living facility — a number that has risen steadily for more than a month now. The remaining three deaths come from Compass Health in Spencer, Accordius Health and Bethamy Retirement Center.
Non-congregate deaths now total 85, while Compass Health reports a total of two deaths, Accordius reports eight and Bethamy reports three. The average age among all deaths is 79.
After county health officials reported an additional 59 cases on Thursday, positives now total 9,875, with 3,931 of those currently active and 5,758 recovered. And after conducting 101,548 tests, the percent positive rate is now 10.07%. Last week, the rate sat at 9.43% after 93,558 tests had been conducted.
The average age among all cases is 44.2, but the plurality of cases are among those aged 18-35.
As 28 Rowan Countians are currently being hospitalized for COVID-19, 91 of the 115 beds allocated for COVID-19 patients in the county are occupied along with seven of the 61 available ventilators. Those beds and ventilators can serve patients from outside the county seeking care here.
All of those statistics currently place Rowan County in the red, or critical, category on the county alert system, as well as 18th in the state for most reported cases and sixth for most reported deaths. All five counties ahead of Rowan for their COVID-19 death toll — Forsyth, Gaston, Guilford, Mecklenburg and Wake — are more populous.
The state also reached a grim milestone on Thursday after reporting its highest single-day increase in cases — 10,398. A record of 9,527 additional cases across the state was set last week on New Year’s Day. Thursday’s case count amounts to 592,746 total cases after 7.26 million completed tests. A total of 3,960 North Carolinians are currently being hospitalized and 7,213 have died.
Thursday’s statewide record increase prompted a warning from Gov. Roy Cooper on Twitter.
“These numbers paint a dark picture — COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across our state,” Cooper’s tweet stated. “We’re at a critical point in our fight against this virus and all need to take responsibility for our own actions.”
The Triad Healthcare Preparedness Coalition region, where Rowan County sits, currently comprises the plurality of all statewide hospitalizations at 1,072. The Triad region is currently using the plurality of ICU beds and inpatient beds, at 512 and 3,993, respectively.
The latest cluster report from state health officials shows cases associated with religious setting clusters decreased for a third week after a peak was seen in December. In total, there have been 148 clusters, 2,098 cases and 33 deaths linked to religious settings. Cases associated with clusters in college and university settings were reported at their lowest since June. A total of 204 clusters, 2,756 cases and one death has been linked to college and university settings.
Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.