Lincoln County's active COVID-19 cases has swelled to 125 as of Monday afternoon (July 6th). The county has still had only two confirmed deaths from the disease and claims 197 people have recovered. 25 are still awaiting the results of their tests.
Catawba County reported 40 new cases Monday, bringing the county's active cases to 543. 14 Catawba County residents have died from the disease, while 454 have recovered. Since testing began, the county has now had 1,011 positive tests.
For the first time recently, Gaston County's number of active cases is greater than Catawba County's. Gaston has 579 active cases as of Monday afternoon. The county has now had 15 people die related to COVID-19. 759 people are said to have recovered.
Cleveland County's active cases are now less than Lincoln's, according to Monday's report. Cleveland has 92 active cases while 295 people are said to have recovered. The county has now had six deaths from the coronavirus.
South Carolina, which reopened businesses much earlier than North Carolina, is seeing a rapid increase in cases. 1,505 new cases were reported Monday, and the Palmetto State has had 819 deaths. South Carolina also has over 1,200 people hospitalized with the disease, even though the state has only half the population of North Carolina.
The worst news from the South Carolina report is that the percent of all tests that were positive Sunday was 18.8%. This figure has been above 15 percent every day since June 22nd.
North Carolina set another daily record Monday--hospitalizations increased to 982. North Carolina has now had 1,398 people die related to the disease. NCDHHS says 55,318 patients are presumed to be recovered from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 9,780 people from last week. Based on the number who have recovered and the number who have died, since the state has had 74,529 positive tests, that means there are currently 17,813 active cases statewide.
Another South Carolina city has enacted a mandatory mask law. Rock Hill joined Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Greenville, and at least 10 other towns and cities and four counties in the state in requiring wearing a mask in public places. Unlike North Carolina, where the statewide order provides only for a citation to businesses that don't require masks--an order that most sheriffs refuse to enforce--some of the South Carolina ordinances include a fine for those not complying. In Myrtle Beach, it's $100.
Nationally, at least 36 states have seen significant increases in their confirmed COVID-19 cases. Much of the increases has been in younger segments of the population. In Florida, for example, the biggest increase has been in those in their 20s, who are apparently convinced that the pandemic won't affect them. Young people who contract the virus are not likely to have a serious illness, research shows. However, the CDC says about 40% of people who have needed to be hospitalized due to the coronavirus are between the ages of 18 and 64.
The pandemic's effect on unemploment can't be underestimated. Some were put out of work because their businesses were ordered closed or restricted in operations by the Governor's orders; others were closed or operations diminished related more directly to the virus. Some businesses that could legally reopen under the Governor's order are still closed or have closed again because of cases of the virus.
While the County news release didn't say so, we understand that the closing of the Lincoln County Courthouse for two days for cleaning was related to a case of the disease. The Dollar General store in High Shoals closed for the same reason. So did the McDonald's in Cherryville. Several other businesses closed for a day or two because of cases of the virus, and one local bank branch closed for two weeks.
The mask requirements that have been imposed are intended to slow the spread of the disease without the need for a full lockdown. According to Jill Gonzalez, an analyst with personal finance website WalletHub: “Consumers are more comfortable going out when they know everyone will be wearing masks, according to a recent WalletHub survey, and greater confidence leads to more people leaving the house and supporting businesses again. We likely will not see a spike in new unemployment claims unless states close businesses that have already reopened. Rather than impose more lockdowns, states should focus on mandatory measures that protect everyone such as mask wearing in public and temperature checks at workplaces and in airports.”
It's believed that the big increases we're seeing now are related to activities of Memorial Day weekend, when many disregarded the need for social distancing and wearing masks. It's likely that the same behavior over July 4th will likely create another huge increase later this month.
Worldwide, 540 thousand people have died from COVID-19; in the US, almost 133 thousand.