Cleveland County had a fourth person die associated with COVID-19 on Saturday. The latest victim was between the ages of 50-64 and had multiple underlying health conditions.
Catawba County added another death to its report--14 people have now died from COVID-19. The county's active cases now number 456 after 32 more new cases were reported Monday. The county had its biggest daily number of new cases reported Saturday--42. 338 people are said to have recovered from the disease and 15 were hospitalized Monday.
Gaston County saw a big increase in the number of active cases over the weekend. From 325 on Friday, the number of active cases increased by 91 to 416 on Monday afternoon. Gaston claims 614 recovered cases; the county has had a dozen deaths related to the coronavirus.
Mecklenburg County has had 149 deaths and a total of 10,863 confirmed COVID-19 cases. A majority of those deaths were people in nursing homes or long-term care facilities. In all but two of the fatal cases, the person had underlying health conditions.
Lincoln County's number of active cases increased by only one since Friday--to 74. 18 people were still awaiting test results. 171 are said to have recovered and the county has had two deaths from the disease.
The world surpassed two coronavirus milestones Sunday -- a half million confirmed deaths and 10 million confirmed cases. Over 2.5 million of those confirmed cases have been in the US; the national death toll is now over 128,000. 30 US states have seen a significant increase in their number of active cases in the last week.
North Carolina had its biggest percentage of positive tests among tests performed reported Saturday; the tests that produced that number actually happened earlier last week. The percentage of positive tests continues to average about 10% over the last few weeks.
The state has now had 1,325 deaths associated with COVID-19. The number of people hospitalized fell below 850 for the first time in a week in Monday's report, down from just over 900 on two days last week--but only 75% of hospitals reported in the latest figures, so the true number hospitalized is likely larger.
The latest report indicates that about 25% of all hospital beds and 25% of intensive care beds are still available in the state.
While face coverings that cover the nose and mouth are now mandatory in North Carolina, compliance is still far from total. Harris Teeter, Walmart & Lowe's were giving out masks to customers who didn't have one, but those who were refusing to wear the masks were still being allowed to shop. Publix was requiring that customers wear a mask or other facial covering. Ingles wasn't giving out any masks; they did have a small sign on the front door saying that masks are required, but half or more of the shoppers in their store weren't wearing one Monday. Employees were--but several of them had the mask tucked below their chins, not covering mouths or noses.
Some businesses were flaunting their non-compliance. Their employees weren't wearing any facial covering and they were making it clear that they wouldn't require it of customers.
While the Governor's executive order still has gyms forbidden to open, several have now decided to open anyway. Denver Fitness and Rock Fitness were both open. North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein found a 'loophole' in the requirement that they be closed. Stein said anyone who is ordered by a doctor to exercise can legally do so at a gym. Dozens of patrons at both centers indicated they had been told to exercise by their doctors.
We checked with Lincolnton Police at mid-afternoon Monday and were told that they had questioned the owner of a produce store on E. Main Street where both customers and employees weren't wearing masks. Police said the owner insisted that all three of his employees had medical conditions that made them unable to wear a mask. We were told that no citation had been issued and asked that police let us know if and when one was. Monday night, a former City Police officer and former Sheriff candidate posted what appears to be a copy of a citation issued to Burton Farms. Dozens of comments blasting police, a neighboring business who the Facebook commenters claimed had 'turned them in,' etc. followed.
The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office has not issued any citations to businesses for violating the requirement. Among those who have been exercising at one of the fitness centers are multiple Sheriff's deputies. None of the surrounding counties have issued any citations, and the Catawba County Sheriff's Office has indicated they won't.
It is unfortunate but true that COVID-19 has become as much or more of a political talking point than a deadly disease that has now killed three people in Lincoln (third will be included in next update Wednesday), 14 in Catawba, 12 in Gaston and four in Cleveland counties, 149 in Mecklenburg, 1,325 in North Carolina and over 128,000 nationally. There are still those who claim the pandemic is a hoax; they offer no viable explanation of how most of the countries in the world decided to work together to perpetrate the claimed hoax. Refusing to wear a face covering has become a political statement. Posting a copy of the citation issued to a business that decided not to comply with the Governor's executive order was, too.