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Second COVID-19 death in Forsyth County; Winston-Salem closes dog parks over crowd concerns

Second COVID-19 death in Forsyth County; Winston-Salem closes dog parks over crowd concerns

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A county resident with underlying medical conditions became the second person in Forsyth County to die of COVID-19 complications, according to county health officials.

The patient, who died Saturday, was in their late 70s. Health officials do not release names or identifying details to protect patient privacy.

The county’s count of coronavirus cases was up one, to 89 cases, in the public health update released Sunday morning.

“On behalf of Forsyth County government, our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of the latest person to succumb to COVID-19,” said Joshua Swift, the county’s health director. “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by COVID-19. This unfortunate situation is a reminder to stay at home and practice social distancing. We all must do our part to stop the spread and protect our community.”

The case count from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reached 2,585 as of Sunday morning, with 31 deaths statewide. Nationally, cases stood at 312,249 and deaths at 8,503.

Updated federal guidelines recommend everyone wear cloth face covers when they go out in public in order to protect other people in case the wearer should be carrying the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control does not recommend wearing the type of face mask designed for a health care worker.

At the same time, the CDC says the face covers are no substitute for doing the other things that people need to do to slow the spread of the virus: Stay at lease six feet from other people; clean hands often; stay home as much as possible; cover coughs and sneezes; and practice frequent cleaning and disinfection of surfaces that people touch.

The increase in cases from Saturday to Sunday was the smallest one-day increase since the number of cases stalled at 33 in late March.

County health officials said that of the 89 cases here, 41 people have recovered from their bouts with the virus.

The city and county are under orders that forbid more than 10 people gathering at a time. A police lieutenant said officers were kept busy over the weekend dealing with complaints about people breaking that limit: Whether it was to report a cookout or people playing basketball, citizens were asking police to break crowds up, Lt. John D. Morris said.

Morris spoke around sunset on Sunday after he had cleared a parking lot near the M&F Bank on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, where one man had set up a food truck and another a car wash operation.

Morris said neither businessman had done anything wrong, but that officers had to clear people off the lot when police noticed that more than 10 people had gathered.

Morris guessed 50 to 60 people were gathered around the parking lot before he and some other officers arrived and cleared the lot. There were no arrests.

“Our protocol is to warn the people,” Morris said. “All weekend long, people have been calling in about gatherings. Everyone has been compliant and dispersed.”

Food truck operator Timothy Bess, whose business is called Curbing Your Appetite, said he wore a mask and gloves while serving food and washed his hands a lot.

Winston-Salem City Manager Lee Garrity said that crowd problems have forced the closure of dog parks and is causing the dismantling of basketball goals at parks around the city.

“We pulled up the swings and zip-tied them so you can’t use them,” Garrity said. Although playgrounds are taped off, Garrity said it has been a constant challenge to keep people from using them anyway.

Forsyth County Manager Dudley Watts said the county has not closed its dog parks, but that could happen if crowds become a problem.

Mike Anderson, the director of parks and recreation in Forsyth County, said people are doing better about keeping their distance from each other.

“It’s a learning curve with people on social distancing,” he said.

wyoung@wsjournal.com

336-727-7369

@wyoungWSJ

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