Burke County’s latest positive case of COVID-19 indicates there is now community spread.

Burke County Health Director Rebecca McLeod was notified over the weekend of two additional positive cases of COVID-19, which brings the total cases to five in Burke County. One of the people who tested positive did not recently travel or report direct contact with anyone confirmed to have COVID-19, which indicates community spread, said a release from the health department. Community spread means someone doesn’t know where they contracted the virus.

County health officials say those who have tested positive for COVID-19 are isolated and public health staff has started their investigation with the newest cases and will be locating those close contacts to help contain the spread of the infection, the release said.

Catawba County positive cases of the virus remained at 14 on Monday, according to the Hickory Daily Record. The Statesville Record & Landmark reported Monday that Iredell County now has 25 reported cases, an increase of five since the Sunday morning report by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

There have been 1,307 positive cases of the virus so far in North Carolina in 74 counties, with the median age of patients being 46. There have been six deaths as of Monday afternoon, with more than 20,000 people tested, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said during a press briefing on Monday.

Of those who have tested positive in the state, the ones who are 25-49 years old make up 44 percent of the cases, with those 50-64 years old making up 25 percent of cases, according to information from NCDHHS. Of the positive cases, those who are 18-24 years old make up 11 percent.

But of those cases where the patient has died from COVID-19 in the state, 67 percent were 65 years old or older and predominately male, according to information from NCDHHS.

Gov. Roy Cooper’s Stay-At-Home order was supposed to go into effect at 5 p.m. Monday and last for 30 days.

Cohen reminded people that there are no vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. She said the only thing we have to fight it staying at home, unless you work in an essential business.

“You’re actions matter,” Cohen said, adding “Staying at home matters.”

In many ways, fighting COVID-19 is like fighting a war, Cohen said. She said if people are leaving the house, it needs to be limited to going to the grocery story, pharmacy or going outside for exercise, Cohen said.

Starting Monday, Burke County Health Department said it will only be reporting the positive cases for county residents. Since residents are getting tested from outside county agencies and other counties are overwhelmed with managing their residents, negative tests are not getting reported.

North Carolina now has widespread community spread of COVID-19, therefore, they are moving to a different phase of response efforts and is further increasing the population-based community reduction strategies, according to the health department. The goal is to decrease the spread of the virus among the population, especially those at highest risk, so that fewer people need medical care at the same time.

In addition, the county is implementing strategies to try to save supplies and critical workforce so that health care workers and first responders can care for people with more severe symptoms during the outbreak.

For those with mild symptoms, treatment is to focus on managing symptoms, stay hydrated and stay at home and isolated away from others as much as possible within the home. A test will not change how mild symptoms are managed.

The health department said new control measures that started today are:

» Residents are encouraged to call their medical provider if they have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 but they do not need to come out to be tested since it may spread the illness to others in the community, including those at higher risk of complications and health care workers.

The health department says household members and other close contacts (within 6 feet or less for longer than 10 minutes) of a person with known or suspected COVID-19 should stay at home for 14 days after the last exposure, stay at least 6 feet from others, self-monitor their temperature and symptoms and self-isolate if they develop symptoms.

A public information line for Burke County is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Those with questions can call 828-764-9388. After hours, general questions can be directed to the NC Public Information Line at 1-866-462-3821. Residents also can visit the Burke County COVID-19 webpage at www.burkenc.org/COVID-19. For someone having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 and inform the dispatcher that you have symptoms listed for COVID-19.

Sharon McBrayer is a staff writer and can be reached at smcbrayer@morganton.com or at 828-432-8946.

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