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Burke COVID-19 cases highest in region
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Burke COVID-19 cases highest in region

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Burke County was mentioned during the state’s COVID-19 briefing Thursday, but it wasn’t for the right reasons.

The mention came from Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, after a reporter asked her whether officials have thought about a regional approach to reopening the state.

She said that’s something they are continuing to look at, but the state doesn’t lend itself very well to distinct regions like some other states may. Cohen said while there are counties in the western region of the state with low numbers of cases, Burke County in the western region has high case numbers, she said.

Burke County continued its upward trend of cases Thursday, with the county reporting 1,060 positive cases of COVID-19, up from 1,048 on Wednesday. The county has added 44 positive cases since Monday, when the number of positive cases was 1,016.

As of Wednesday night, Burke County’s COVID-19 dashboard was reporting 797 of the people who have tested positive have recovered. The dashboard is updated at night, according to the county.

On Wednesday, the state reported the highest one-day total of positive cases, Cohen said Thursday.

Thursday saw the state reporting 68,142 positive cases of COVID-19, with 1,391 deaths so far associated with the virus and 912 currently hospitalized across North Carolina.

Cohen said during her briefing Thursday that not only are the cases growing, but they’re growing more quickly across the state. She said the state has seen increases day over day in June.

Burke County has the highest number of positive cases in the western region of the state, including Buncombe and Henderson counties, which have higher populations. The state reported Thursday that Buncombe County has 624 positive cases, while Henderson County has 667 cases.

Burke County health officials say some of the new cases were from tests conducted last week that they are just getting word on. Cohen said Thursday that labs are seeing shortages of one of the needed parts of the tests called a reagent.

She said because of that shortage, labs are behind on testing again. She said the state needs federal help with getting the re-agent for labs.

Health officials are stressing the importance of people wearing face coverings, keeping a 6-foot distance from others and washing their hands frequently or using hand sanitizer.

And with the Fourth of July on Saturday, health officials say while it is a tradition for getting together to celebrate the holiday, officials are asking to be aware of the risks of having parties and get-togethers of large groups (more than 10 indoors and more than 25 outdoors).

“We encourage residents not to gather in groups on or at the lake, people’s houses for cookouts and parties unless you can stay away from each other, wear a face covering and wash your hands frequently,” the health department briefing said. “These activities could cause another spike in cases within the county.”

For answers to further questions or additional information, call the Burke County Public Information Line at 828-764-9168, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

After hours, weekends and holidays, leave a message and the call will be answered as soon as the staff returns. Also visit the Burke County COVID-19 webpage at www.burkenc.org/COVID-19.

Sharon McBrayer can be reached at smcbrayer@morganton.com or at 828-432-8946.

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