There's both good and bad news related to the COVID-19 pandemic as we approach the July 4th weekend.
Most of the good news is on the economic scene. US employers added a substantial 4.8 million jobs in June, and the national unemployment rate fell to 11.1% according to figures released Thursday.
The nation has now recovered roughly one-third of the 22 million jobs it lost due to the pandemic; but before you do too much celebrating, it's important to know that Thursday's jobs report is based on data gathered the second week of June. Kronos, a company that sells time management software, found that in the past two weeks, growth in the number of shifts worked has slowed in the Southeast, and some of the states who had reopened are now having second thoughts as the number of new cases of COVID-19 has increased sharply.
California has re-closed bars, theaters and indoor restaurant dining across most of the state. Florida has also re-closed bars and some beaches. Texas has reversed some of its efforts to reopen. New York has paused its plans to allow indoor dining.
Still, nationally new unemployment claims last week were 79% below the peak during the COVID-19 pandemic. North Carolina's unemployment claims continued to be among the slowest to be paid and the state's system continued to be overwhelmed. For the week ending June 22nd, the state had 28,710 unemployment claims--and based on those claims, the state's economy is the 9th slowest in the nation in recovery.
As for its battle with the disease, North Carolina continues to have made little progress toward slowing the spread. 1,391 people have now died, and the number hospitalized was 912 on Thursday.
In our area, Catawba County had its biggest number of new cases in a day Thursday, adding 56 to bring the county's active case count to 450. The county has had 14 people die from COVID-19 and 434 who have recovered from the disease. 15 people in Catawba County were hospitalized.
Catawba County's report also included a newly identified outbreak of at Trinity Ridge, where one resident and two staff members have tested positive for the virus. The facility is informing patients, their family members, and staff about the situation.
This is the fifth congregate care facility outbreak identified in Catawba County. In a congregate living setting, a COVID-19 outbreak is defined as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases.
Gaston County's active case count dipped below 400 again. The county now has 389 active caSes as the number of recovered increased to 750. The county has had 13 deaths.
Cleveland County had seven people hospitalized with problems related to the coronavirus; the county has recorded four deaths and has 76 active cases.
Lincoln County won't release another update until Monday afternoon (July 6th). As of Wednesday (July 1st) the county had 74 active cases and had reported two deaths.