Three more Forsyth County residents have died as a result of COVID-19, and North Carolina has reached another record high number of people hospitalized with the severe respiratory disease.

Forsyth County public-health officials reported that, as of noon Tuesday, there were 47 new cases in the county. There have been 44 coronavirus-related deaths in the county since mid-March.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported there are 1,244 North Carolinians currently hospitalized with COVID-19 related illnesses. That’s up 75 from Monday. The previous high was 1,188 on July 22.

There have been more than 1,000 hospitalizations in the state every day since July 7.

Statewide, there were 1,749 new cases reported Monday. The total state count is at 116,087 since mid-March. The highest-ever daily number of new COVID-19 cases was 2,481 reported July 18.

The number of COVID-19 related deaths increased by 30 in North Carolina to 1,820.

The DHHS said, as of 4 p.m. Monday that about 81% of North Carolinians who have contracted COVID-19 are considered as recovered.

Both Gov. Roy Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state’s health secretary, said Tuesday that they were encouraged by what they termed “early signs of stabilization” even with the record hospitalization total.

“People going into the hospital today were likely infected days or weeks ago,” Cohen said. “This trend will take longer to stabilize than other metrics.

“Fortunately, we still have hospital capacity in North Carolina.”

Cooper and Cohen said they believe the statewide mask mandate, which went into effect June 26, has played a role in more COVID-19 metrics stabilizing.

“We see a direct correlation to the start of the statewide mask requirement,” Cohen said.

About three weeks after the mandate took effect, “we started to see the beginning of these more stable trends,” she said.

“I know it can be frustrating to have to wait to see these results. Slowing the spread requires a sustained effort from all of us.

“Seeing glimmers of potential progress does not mean we can let up,” Cohen said. “It means it’s time to double down.”

Forsyth County updates

Forsyth County health officials said that, as of 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, 3,093 residents are counted as recovered for an active COVID-19 case count of 1,517.

Of the 44 reported deaths in Forsyth County, 28 were male and 16 female. There have been 25 deaths of people 65 and older, 13 in the 55-to-64 age group, four in the 45-to-54 age group and two in the 25-to-34 age group.

White residents make up 18 of the deaths, followed by 12 Latino residents, 11 Black residents, two in the unknown category and one Asian resident.

The 16-county Triad region — officially called the Triad Healthcare Preparedness Coalition — has more intensive-care beds in use, at 385, than any other region in the state, as well as the most inpatient beds in use, at 3,236. Both counts include patients with and without COVID-19.

The Triad region has the state’s second highest total of adult COVID-19 patients in ICU, at 83, up nine from Monday. It also has the second highest total of COVID-19-related hospitalizations, at 240, up from 237 on Monday.

There have been at least 18,324 COVID-19 cases in the 14-county Triad and Northwest North Carolina region, representing 15.8% of statewide cases. There have been at least 305 reported deaths in the region, representing 16.8% of the statewide total.

Dr. Christopher Ohl, an infectious-disease expert at Wake Forest Baptist Health, said Thursday that Forsyth and Guilford counties are examples of the state’s trends, with case trends being modestly down in Forsyth and modestly up in Guilford over the past two weeks.

Ohl said he remains concerned about community spread expanding, particularly with indoor gatherings such as churches, family and neighborhood gatherings and people returning from vacations.

Surveillance updates

Forsyth County health officials on Tuesday provided a county surveillance update with most of the data current as of Saturday. The number of cases at that time was 4,532.

Individuals between the ages of 15 and 44 continued to account for the majority (56%) of COVID-19 cases in the county, while those ages 65 and older represent 8.9% and those ages 14 and under 9.7%.

About 54.8% — or 2,486 — of the county’s cases are among Latino residents. That is down from a peak of 68% of cases as recently as June 17.

About 14.7%, or 668 cases, are among white residents. About 14.2% of cases, or 646, are among residents whose race or ethnicity is unknown. About 13.1%, or 594 cases, were among Black residents. Asian residents make up a little more than 3% of cases, at 138.

The ZIP codes with the most cases are 27015 and 27107, both at 791 cases.

At least 11 cases in the county are linked to staff members at the Forsyth County jail, but no inmates had tested positive as of Friday.

The next DHHS update on nursing home, residential-care facilities, and jails and prisons will be released at 4 p.m. today.

Statewide, the percentage of tests coming back positive has hovered between 8% and 10% since at least mid-May. It was at 7% as of noon Tuesday. There have been 1.66 million tests conducted in North Carolina.

The latest testing numbers for Forsyth as of Saturday had 4,532 positive results out of 37,126 tests countywide for a 12.2% positive rate.

Cohen has said a 5% positive rate would be preferable.

rcraver@wsjournal.com

336-727-7376

@rcraverWSJ

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