GASTONIA — Over the past two weeks, Gaston County and many counties across the state have seen significant increases in cases of COVID-19. While this was expected with the lifting of restrictions and additional testing, the sharp increase in positives, hospitalizations and the percentage of positives out of total tests have local health officials concerned.
Between May 30 and June 12, Gaston County saw a 312% increase in positive tests. During that same period, the percentage of positive tests out of total tests increased from 5.14% to 11.17%. Perhaps of most concern, the number of hospitalizations has increased from single digits in mid-May to more than 20 over the past week.
“We know this has been hard on our community, but we really need people to stay diligent right now,” shared Gaston County’s Public Health Director, Steve Eaton. “We are working as hard as we can to track cases and educate the community, but we need for the public to help us by staying home, especially if you’re sick, wearing masks in public, and practicing social distancing. We cannot do this alone.”
Total number of hospitalizations is a measure that is largely unaffected by an increase in testing and suggests that COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in the area.
“While we expected and prepared for an increase in hospitalized patients, the significant uptick in a matter of weeks is troubling,” said Dr. Todd Davis, Chief Medical Officer for CaroMont Health. “It is critically important that people take measures to protect themselves and help control the spread of this virus. It does not require that you change your entire life, it’s simply a matter of making choices that help minimize your risk of contracting COVID-19 and spreading to others.”
Those precautions include wearing a mask or face covering, waiting six feet apart to avoid close contact and washing hands.
“I know a lot of people don’t want to wear a mask,” said Dr. Davis. “But, it really is one of the most important things you can to do protect yourself and others.”