There was both good news and bad at the Monday afternoon briefing by NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen. The state's percentage of positive tests, which had been 10% the last part of last week, was back down to 8%. That's still well above the target of 5% or less Cohen said she wants to see before North Carolina moves into Phase Three of Governor Roy Cooper's reopening plan. The other good news was that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 had declined a bit over the weekend. The number of hospitalizations has been a key metric the state is analyzing, with 883 people, a one-day high, on Saturday, but the number dropped to 845 on Sunday. It increased to 870 on Monday. With increased testing, the number of new cases continued high. 804 new cases were reported Monday bringing the total to 53,605 since the pandemic began in early March. 1,223 deaths in North Carolina have been attributed to the disease.
Cohen expressed another concern Monday: more young people are testing positive for the coronavirus. The shift in demographics has been even more pronounced in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas and other states which were among the first to reopen. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said cases are “shifting in a radical direction” toward populations in their 20s and 30s. Those younger groups testing positive are mostly asymptomatic and most don’t require clinical attention, the governor said. The head of the Mecklenburg County Health Dept. reported last week that there have been more cases recently among the young than in earlier reports. The number of young people becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 or dying from the disease is still small compared to senior citizens--but it is also true that some younger people do get the disease and there have been deaths--even among those with no underlying health conditions.
As for the numbers in our area:
Lincoln County has now recorded 194 confirmed cases of COVID-19; 71 of those are still active, while 122 have recovered. One person died from the disease. As of Monday afternoon (June 22nd) 24 people were awaiting their test results.
Catawba County has now had 600 confirmed cases. 26 new cases Monday means 336 people in Catawba County are still battling an active case; 11 of those are hospitalized. Catawba County has had 251 people recover and 13 deaths.
Gaston County's number of positive cases is now 307 and the county has now had 12 deaths from COVID-19. 455 people there have recovered.
Cleveland County has 70 active cases, 138 people who have recovered, and nine people in the hospital with illnesses related to the coronavirus.
Catawba County residents who are experiencing difficulties because of COVID-19 will be pleased to know that families or individuals experiencing a financial hardship with paying their mortgage, rent, utilities or other expense due to the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for financial assistance through the COVID-19 Relief Program beginning July 1st. Applications will be available through Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry (ECCCM).
To be eligible for assistance, applicants must have experienced one or more of the following hardships resulting from COVID-19: job loss, wage reduction, illness, other household impact, childcare challenges, or unable to find employment if working prior to February 29, 2020. Applicants must be residents of Catawba County.
Starting July 1, residents may apply online at https://www.ecccm.org/covid or in person at ECCCM, 245 East N Street in Newton. No appointment is required. For more information about the program, call ECCCM at 828-465-1702.
Funding for the COVID-19 Relief Program is provided by a Community Services Block Grant from the North Carolina Office of Economic Opportunity. A one-time allocation of $312,316 was awarded to Catawba County Social Services, the county’s designated Community Action Agency, for the establishment of an emergency COVID-19 relief program. The program is administered by Social Services in partnership with ECCCM.
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