In a meeting of the Yadkin Local Emergency Planning Committee on Thursday, health officials gave several updates about the increasing COVID-19 infections in the county.
Jessica Wall, Assistant Director of Yadkin County Health and Human Services, said the county is seeing an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases compared to what the county has experienced thus far in the pandemic. Wall said from around May through September, the number of active cases being monitored averaged around 30 to 40, now the county is seeing around 90 to 100 active cases at one time.
“October took us into a new level of response we have not yet seen in the pandemic,” she said.
Some days in October the county was seeing 15 to 25 new cases per day.
“The end of last week were tough and we had some higher case counts,” Wall said.
As the state has moved into Phase 3 with few safety restrictions, Wall said it is not surprising to see the increase in cases.
“In Phase 3 we have had the most ability to move about. We’re seeing people take advantage of that so it’s not surprising [the increase in cases.]”
The nature of where patients are contracting the illness is shifting, too, Wall said. She noted the evidence was anecdotal at this point, but through contact tracing it appears many of the cases now being reported are being contracted through social interactions with family and friends.
“We’re seeing less occupational exposure and more what we call social exposure, people attending weddings, hanging out with family, going on vacations, going to dinner, spending time with their friends and family,” Wall said.
Wall also the increase in cases wasn’t necessarily reflecting a higher number of hospitalizations at first, but the number of hospitalizations is beginning to increase.
As of Monday there were 113 active cases of COVID-19 being monitored with 12 patients hospitalized. There have been 11 deaths associated with COVID-19 in the county.
A new position recently added to the Yadkin County Health Department, a community paramedic, has been working closely with the COVID response, Wall also noted. This paramedic works closely with patients who have contracted the illness and can help monitor and determine if the patient needs to seek additional care.
“It is helpful when patients have moderate to severe symptoms,” Wall said. “We’re really glad to have that [position.]”
The community paramedic worked with 46 patients in the month of October.
Two free COVID-19 testing sites are now operating in Yadkin County through a partnership of the State of North Carolina and OptumServe, the federal government health services business of Optum. The goal of the additional testing sites is to expand no-cost virus testing services to the residents of North Carolina. No personal identification or insurance is required.
The sites are located at West Yadkin Baptist Church, 2929 U.S. 21 in Hamptonville, and Yadkin Medical Campus, 624 West Main Street, in Yadkinville (former hospital campus.) Both sites are open Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
OptumServe sites will be able to support patients from adjacent counties and will be able to support patients ages 1 to 18 when brought to the testing site with a parent or legal guardian. These tests are free and there will be bilingual staff present. Anyone who meets the testing criteria can be tested at a testing site. Uninsured and undocumented individuals may use the testing site, and their tests will be paid for by the state.
OptumServe will generate a unique identification number for individuals who do not have a driver’s license. Residents can pre-register for the testing event by visiting the company’s website or by calling the toll-free phone number, to allow individuals who cannot register online to contact OptumServe and schedule an appointment by phone. This number is reserved strictly for those without internet or are registering for a minor. These tests will have a turnaround time of approximately three days, as these are not rapid tests. Officials ask that those who get a test begin a self-isolation while they await their results.
While walk-ups are accepted at the testing sites, local health officials encourage residents to register and schedule an appointment at https://lhi.care/covidtesting. Anyone who meets the virus testing criteria can be tested, including people who are underinsured, uninsured, undocumented or homeless.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.