COVID-19 is making a surge in Burke County, with another 56 new cases of the virus added to its total and more people hospitalized on Thursday.
And the state reported on Thursday the highest one-day increase of the virus.
The Burke County Health Department reported a total of 3,734 positive cases, up from 3,678 on Wednesday.
The hospitalizations of county residents due to the virus are now at 17, according to the Burke County COVID-19 dashboard, which usually lags behind the health department’s daily briefings. The dashboard also showed 636 active cases of the virus (17.2%) in the county and 2,986 people (81%) have recovered.
Close contact and community spread are the primary ways the virus is being transmitted in Burke County, according to the dashboard.
The county has previously reported a total of 65 people have died due to the virus.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 4,296 new cases on Thursday. It also reported the number of people visiting the emergency department with COVID-like illness also saw an increase.
The department said COVID-19 is highly contagious, and more than half of residents in the state are at high risk for serious illness. Studies are also finding that some people, including those who had mild illness, experience symptoms for weeks or months following infection.
"I am very concerned. We are seeing warning signs in our trends that we need to heed to keep our family and friends from getting sick and ensuring our hospitals are able to care for those that have serious illness," said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D., said in a release Thursday. "We can do that if each North Carolinian wears a face mask over their mouth and nose anytime they are with people they do not live with; waits six feet apart and avoids crowds; and washes their hands often. We have reasons for hope. With promising news on vaccines, this pandemic will end. Until then, North Carolinians need to do what we’ve done throughout this pandemic — take care of one another."
The current limit for indoor gatherings is 10 people, as cases of the virus continue to rise across the state.
Thanksgiving is just a week away, and health officials are encouraging the public to avoid large group gatherings.
NCDHHS is asking people to keep their Thanksgiving small, limiting mixing between households or just celebrate with immediate family.
It also recommending people:
- Have a virtual Thanksgiving this year with family and friends
- Wear masks all the time during the Thanksgiving time with family
- Keep it outside, if possible
- Get a test ahead of going to Thanksgiving visits
- Use single serve options or one person serve instead of buffet style eating
- College students going home for the holidays are encouraged to get tested before going home
- Arrange tables and chairs to be physically distanced between people if they are not in the same family unit
State health officials have advised anyone who plans to travel or gather for Thanksgiving to have a COVID-19 test three to four days ahead of time. A screening test can help someone know if they have COVID-19 even if they do not have yet have symptoms, but the tests can miss some infections.
Screening tests are available at state-funded community testing events. People should call ahead to other testing sites to see if they offer screening tests at their locations. Community testing events and other testing sites are listed online at ncdhhs.gov/testingplace.
Gathering in large groups for the traditional Black Friday shopping tradition is ill advised, the Department of Health and Human Services' guidance said.
According to the release, any large gathering of people poses an increased risk for spreading COVID-19. People at high risk for COVID-19 complications should limit in-person shopping. People who have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19, have COVID-19-like symptoms or who have been exposed to COVID-19 should not shop in person until their isolation or quarantine period is over.
People who do shop in person should follow the three W's: Wear a mask, wait 6 feet away from others and wash hands frequently with soap and water or using hand sanitizer. They also should remember that stores are limited to 50 percent capacity, the release said.
Knowing there are some who won’t follow the gathering restrictions, Burke County has issued a plea to residents in its recent media briefings.
“If you are going to have a small gathering regardless of the recommendations, please make sure that people wear their face coverings while inside and that everyone physically distances themselves more than 6 feet away from others,” said the county’s media briefing Tuesday.
To make an appointment for COVID-19 testing at the Burke County Health Department, call 828-764-9150. The Health Department also reminds residents to make sure they give the name on their birth certificate and their address so that positive test results are correctly attributed to the county.
For questions about the virus, call the county’s public information line at 828-764-9168.
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