RANDOLPH COUNTY — A week after more people were infected statewide than ever before, a slight adjustment came following Thanksgiving.
Case numbers seemed to plateau somewhat from their continued historic rise last week, which prompted Gov. Roy Cooper to address the COVID-19 crisis and again warn residents that mask mandates will grow stricter.
As the state reported four of its five highest daily totals of new coronavirus cases, Cooper announced last week that new safety measures would be implemented. This includes the extension of North Carolina’s Phase 3 restrictions through at least Dec. 11.
“I have a stark warning for North Carolinians today,” Cooper said. “We are in danger. This is a pivotal moment in our fight against the coronavirus. Our actions now will determine the fate of many.”
By nearly any statistical measure, in November, the state saw its largest surge in positive tests since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The most recent seven-day average of 3,572 new cases statewide actually represents a decline after a week of new record after new record.
A COVID-19 County Alert System recently introduced by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services indicates treacherous footing for Randolph County. The new system categorizes counties across the state using a tiered system to classify transmission of the virus. Three different metrics are examined over 14 days, including cases per 100,000 residents;% positive test results; and the impact on hospitals.
On Nov. 23, Randolph was classified as orange, denoting substantial community spread and an increase over the last 14 days. A 10% positive test rate signifies moderate impact, according to the report.
In response to the state’s growing trends, which most recently indicated 20 counties were in the red, Cooper imposed stronger mask mandates and hinted at possible further restrictions if things do not improve in two weeks’ time. His executive order called for businesses to ensure that all employees and customers are wearing masks at all times and for stores over 15,000 square feet to have an employee stationed at the door to enforce capacity limits.
Further mask requirements now include any public indoor space, even while maintaining 6 feet of distance; gyms, even when exercising; all public and private schools; and all public or private transportation.
Repeated with great regularity, the only solutions available for the time being are the aforementioned social distancing, face coverings and frequent washing of hands. That will remain the case until vaccines, which continue to reveal promising reports of up to 95% success in clinical trials, become available to residents in the coming weeks.
State Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said this week that hope is arriving soon and there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is up to local residents to remain steadfast in their approach to arriving there safely.
“The coming weeks will be a true test of our resolve to do what it takes to keep people from getting sick, to save lives, and to make sure that if you need hospital care — whether it’s for a heart attack or a car accident or COVID-19, you can get it,” Cohen said. “Don’t lose hope; we are so close.”
Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at email@example.com.