We told you last week that we are beginning the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nationally, statewide, and locally, the number of cases is on the upswing. In North Carolina, where we set single day records for new cases on Thursday and Friday of last week, there were 1,578 new cases reported Tuesday.
The US added 42,895 case; the total nationwide is now over 8.5 million. North Carolina is responsible for 3.77% of the new cases reported nationally on Tuesday, 2.8% of the total since the pandemic began. Our total number of cases so far is 248,750, seventh most of any state, behind Georgia (342,438), Illinois (27,972), New York (27,972), Florida (760,389), Texas (877,077) and California (882,906). 53 new deaths were reported Tuesday bringing that total to 3,992. The state had a 7.4 percent positive test rate Tuesday. For the first time since July, the number of North Carolinians hospitalized from the disease topped 1,200; on Tuesday we had 1,203 hospitalized.
As COVID-19 cases rise, several states have set rules for traveling there from North Carolina. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut require North Carolina travelers to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. Illinois has asked that residents traveling to our state quarantine for 14 days when they come home, but there’s no official mandate, but Chicago requires a 14-day quarantine for North Carolina visitors traveling to Chicago and for Chicago residents traveling to North Carolina when returning home. Massachusetts requires visitors from North Carolina to fill out a travel form and quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result administered within 72 hours of their arrival.
Pennsylvania requires a 14-day quarantine for visitors from North Carolina and Pennsylvania residents who have traveled to NC. New Mexico requires visitors from North Carolina to quarantine for 14 days. Vermont requires a 14-day quarantine or a seven-day quarantine if you get a COVID-19 test and it's negative. Rhode Island mandates a 14-day quarantine, but that is waived if you get a test and it's negative.
In our area, the number of active COVID-19 cases in Gaston County increased by over 200 since last Friday--from 1,144 to 1,351 Tuesday. The county's death toll increased to 107 with four new deaths. The only good news in the report is that the percentage of positive tests for the week of Oct. 4-10 decreased to 8.85%.
Lincoln County recorded another death related to the virus, bringing the total to 18. The county's active case count is now 175.
Catawba County, which recorded its highest single day total of new cases last Friday with 90, had 61 new cases Monday and 30 on Tuesday. Since the pandemic began, the county has recorded over 4,000 cases. The death count in Catawba is now 61.
In Cleveland County, there were 197 active cases Monday. The county had reported 80 virus-related deaths.
Some will accuse us of causing undue panic--fear-mongering is their choice verbage. Truthfully, we have a responsibility to report on this clear and present danger with the hope that knowing what we face will help us to prepare for it and to behave with reason instead of emotion or political rhetoric.
Multiple top scientists and medical professionals have made it very clear that the worst is likely yet to come. Dr. Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that "the next six to 12 weeks are going to be the darkest of the entire pandemic."
Listening in on a conference call with multiple top medical people from North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia last week, this reporter heard a consensus that the months of December and January may be the worst of the pandemic and the death toll, currently at 220,000, will likely double by the end of January. Those are deaths that have officially been linked to the disease, although the cause of death may have included other factors. The virus likely actually contributed to far more deaths according to the CDC, which issued a statement Monday that said: "Overall, an estimated 299,028 excess deaths occurred from late January through October 3, 2020, with 198,081 (66%) excess deaths attributed to COVID-19."
We would be amiss if we didn't also report the following: we know what works. We may have a vaccine by the end of the year, although it won't be administered to most people until sometime in 2021; but the so-called 3Ws have been proved to be effective in slowing the spread of the disease.
You may have 'pandemic fatigue' and be anxious to have this crisis over and done, but no--we aren't about to 'round the corner' and won't be for some time yet. That's the truth and we'd be irresponsible not to report it. We CAN, however, do some very simple things--like wearing facial coverings, avoiding crowds, socially distancing, etc.--that will help prevent spreading the virus and save lives.