MOORESVILLE, NC — Iredell County health officials urged residents to use caution when participating in summer gatherings or taking vacations with extended family — a warning that comes as the county's number of known COVID-19 cases surpassed 1,500 cases.
Iredell County reported 43 new COVID-19 cases and one death Friday, increasing the number of lives lost to the virus in the county to 18.
As of July 24, Iredell County had confirmed 1,504 cases of COVID-19, with at least 214 of the cases reported in the past week, according to health department data. About 10 percent of all tests in Iredell County were positive as of Friday, a rate that was slightly higher than the state's overall 9 percent positive rate that same day.
One month ago, Iredell's positivity rate was just 6 percent.
"It has been a difficult four months since Iredell County Health Department was notified of our first local COVID-19 case," the department said in a statement Friday afternoon. "While our county is testing many more people, an increase in our positive rate is a clear indication there is an overall rise in community spread of COVID-19," it said.
Higher rates of community spreader mean local gatherings in the community also come with higher risk, according to health officials.
"The more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19," ICHD said. "This would be especially true for extended family summer vacations."
The spread of the new coronavirus in North Carolina rose to 108,995 confirmed cases Friday, an increase of 2,102 cases since Thursday. The state's COVID-19 death toll also increased to 1,746 Friday, an increase of 20 lives lost to the virus in North Carolina in a day.
Iredell County health officials are grouping cases into three regions of the county: North, Central and South. Here's a breakdown of where cases have been confirmed as of 4 p.m. Friday:
North Region (ZIP codes 27020, 27028, 27055, 28625, 28634, 28636, 28660, 28689 and 28678)
326 cases (up from 297 cases reported July 17)
Central Region (ZIP codes 27013, 28166, 28677)
601 cases (up from 505 cases reported July 17)
South Region (ZIP codes 28036, 28115, 28117, 28125)
577 cases (up from 488 cases reported July 17)
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ICHD encourages people protect themselves to help lessen the spread of COVID-19 by doing the following:
Practice social distancing, which means avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people and keeping 6 feet or more between yourself and others.
Wear cloth mask or face covering when out in public where you may be around people, such as at grocery stores or pharmacies. There are exceptions to this requirement related to medical or behavioral conditions. You should still try to practice social distancing even if wearing a cloth face covering.
Frequent hand-washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw it in the trash.
Stay home when you’re sick.
Keep distance from others who are sick.
Avoid touching your face.
Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in common areas such as doorknobs, remotes, light switches, tables and handles.