COVID-19 cases continue to climb

ON THE RISE: It’s too soon to know if the recent rise of COVID-19 cases is related to North Carolina’s Phase 3 reopening, state health officials say, but the numbers are moving in the wrong direction. On Oct. 8, NCDHHS recorded 2,428 new cases, the highest count since July. Graph courtesy of NCDHHS

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,428 new cases of COVID-19 on Oct. 8, the highest count since July 30. Hospitalizations hit a monthly peak at 1,065 COVID-19 patients with 95% of hospitals reporting on Oct. 8, the last day data was shared. It’s the third day hospitalizations topped 1,000 in the last month, followed only behind the 1,023 cases reported Oct. 6 and the 1,040 cases reported Oct. 7. 

Buncombe County is also seeing a somewhat higher level of viral spread. On Oct. 9, 3.4% of Buncombe’s COVID-19 tests were positive, according to NCDHHS, a slight rise over last week’s 3% positivity rate. 

No one type of environment is driving viral spread locally, said Stacey Wood, spokesperson for the Buncombe health department, in response to questions submitted by local media outlets. The age distribution of county cases remains the same, she added: 41.6% of Buncombe’s cases appear in individuals 25-49 years old. 

“We continue to see upticks in cases as the phased reopening occurs and around holidays,” said. “We saw our highest average increase in cases per day in July and then a decrease in August and September. We are seeing an increase in new cases per day again, but it is probably too early to tell about any correlation with the recent lifting of restrictions.” 

Henderson County Schools debut COVID-19 dashboard

Henderson County Public Schools, in partnership with the Henderson County Department of Public Health, has launched a new dashboard to track COVID-19 cases among students and staff members.

According to the dashboard, 14 Henderson County students and staff at eight different schools have tested positive for the coronavirus since data collection began Sept. 21. On Oct. 9, two new cases were reported at North Henderson High School. 

Henderson County is the first regional school district to share all COVID-19 infections linked to public schools. Earlier in the week, Buncombe County Public Schools reported a COVID-19 cluster at Oakley Elementary School; however, data about infections at each Buncombe school has not been released. 

As schools reopen, they must balance transparency with patient privacy, said Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state’s secretary of health and human services, at an Oct. 6 press conference. Under state and federal privacy laws, identifying information about infected individuals will not be shared.  

“We don’t want anyone to get bullied in any way,” she said. “We need to work to protect those folks who have been in direct contact with infected individuals. They need to quarantine and get tested, but we need to respect their privacy.” 

The Henderson County school dashboard will be updated each weekday by 9 a.m. 

In other news

Updated at 2:05 p.m. to reflect Oct. 9 COVID-19 numbers and updated information from Henderson County Public Schools. 

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About Molly Horak
Molly is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and writer for Mountain Xpress. Her work has appeared in the Citizen-Times, News and Observer and Charlotte Observer. Follow me @molly_horak

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