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Three more COVID-19 deaths in Forsyth. Case total nears 5,500.

Three more COVID-19 deaths in Forsyth. Case total nears 5,500.

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Three more residents of Forsyth County have died from COVID-19 related illnesses, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said Friday.

The county's death toll rose to 56 with the latest three victims.

There were 37 new cases reported in Forsyth on Thursday, increasing the overall total to 5,477 since mid-March.

During August, new daily cases in Forsyth have ranged from 13 to 65 after being at 88 as recently as July 31.

Forsyth health officials said that, as of 12:15 p.m. Friday, 4,654 residents were counted as recovered and 767 residents had active cases. It's is the lowest active case count since mid-June.

Guilford County has reported 5,858 cases since mid-March, including 32 new cases Thursday. The number of deaths was unchanged at 158.

Forsyth health officials are conducting their next free COVID-19 testing event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at Shiloh Baptist Church, 916 E. 12th St. in Winston-Salem.

Drive-thru testing is available for both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. Walk-ups are allowed. To register and for more information on testing, go to forsyth.cc/covidupdate.

Joshua Swift, Forsyth's health director, said the department was made aware by StarMed, the provider that conducts COVID-19 testing at its events, that about 100 individuals had erroneously received bills for testing.

"The bills were sent in error from StarMed’s insurance clearinghouse," Swift said. "There is no payment for the nasal swab testing ... you may disregard the bill."

There have been at least 22,394 COVID-19 cases in the 14-county Triad and Northwest North Carolina region, representing 15.7% of statewide cases. There have been at least 354 reported deaths in the region, representing 15.3% of the statewide total. 

N.C. updates

Statewide, DHHS reported 1,346 new cases Thursday and 26 additional deaths. The highest-ever daily number of new cases statewide was 2,481, reported on July 18. The overall statewide case total is 142,170, while the death toll is 2,313.

DHHS said 1,049 North Carolinians are currently hospitalized with illnesses related to COVID-19, down 21 from Thursday. There have been more than 1,000 hospitalizations in the state every day since July 7.

On Aug. 5, Gov. Roy Cooper extended the state’s Phase Two reopening restrictions a third time, until Sept. 11, to allow selective reopenings to begin, such as in K-12 public schools.

The Phase Two restrictions, which Cooper calls a “safer-at-home” approach, began May 22. Private bars, fitness centers, bowling alleys, gyms and other businesses remain closed under the restrictions.

The Cooper administration is monitoring five public-health data points: number of hospitalizations; number of hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators available; number of positive cases; percentage of positive cases; and number of individuals coming to hospital emergency rooms with COVID-19 symptoms.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state's health secretary, said Thursday that, overall, the five metrics have either stabilized or are on slight downward trends so far in August, although still at elevated levels.

She said testing turnaround times have improved to a two- to three-day window in more instances.

Cooper and Cohen praised the cooperation of North Carolinians who have been wearing masks consistently since a statewide mask mandate began June 26.

"While we remained paused in safer-at-home Phase Two ... now is the time to double down on these efforts," Cooper said.

However, Cohen cautioned it is too early to say the state has experienced the worst from COVID-19.

"Overall, our trends tell the story of sacrifice and hard work that has allowed us to see the start of decline in our key metrics," Cohen said.

"But remember, this progress is fragile as more people will be in close contact, which means the potential for viral spread."

Cohen stressed the importance of North Carolinians getting a flu shot when available before or soon after the 2020-21 flu season officially begins Oct. 1.

336-727-7376

@rcraverWSJ

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