WENTWORTH — Rockingham County’s reported COVID-19 cases have increased six-fold since May 6, county health statistics show — a jump from 29 to 177, Tuesday’s tally.

But survival numbers for the county of about 91,000 are encouraging, data reflects. Of the 177 positive county cases 86%, or 151, have recovered, county health records show.

Meanwhile, five patients remain hospitalized and 12 are asymptomatic, meaning they show no obvious signs of the coronavirus, but are able to spread the disease to others.

Two of the county’s 177 known positive patients, both over 60 and with compromised immune systems, have died since the start of the pandemic.

Countywide testing has been steady over the past three weeks with drive-up locations springing up in western Rockingham County at the Madison-Mayodan Public Library, at Eden Drug and at a Cone Health-sponsored site opposite Annie Penn Hospital on Reidsville’s Main Street.

And the Rockingham County Department of Health and Human Services has nine staffers working as contact tracers, trying to locate and notify all individuals who may have come in contact with those who are infected with COVID-19.

Such contact tracing, which is not required by the state, but a practice the county chose to employ, helps prompt more testing and often reveals asymptomatic patients, health officials noted.

Thus far, of the county’s 517 individuals tested, about 34% were positive. Statewide, only about 7-8% of all tests come back positive. Health officials remind that the high ratio of positive cases in rural counties such as Rockingham may be the result of smaller testing samples. Fewer individuals are tested, and testing requirements in rural areas are often more stringent.

Statistics also show that 97 of the county’s 177 cases are age 40 or older, while 77 are 39 or under. Felissa Ferrell, director of RCDHHS, said the gender breakdown is about 50/50.

Racial breakdowns of the positive cases, show 61 patients are Hispanic or Latino, or 35%, 149 are white, or 84%, and 24 patients are black, representing 12% of the total.

Statewide, health officials have recorded about 52,800 positive cases and reported around 1,220 deaths.

Throughout the county, the majority of residents seem reluctant to don masks. And informal surveys of the county’s main cities and towns show frequent disregard for social distancing protocols, with people gathering in larger groups, hugging, and congregating in tight quarters.

An area antique shop was stuffed with people on Saturday, many of whom were senior citizens, moving in the cramped and unventilated space without masks. National and local health officals caution that people over 50 are at higher risk for serious complications or death from the respiratory virus and should therefore avoid such scenarios.

A significant number of people wearing masks were observed wearing them incorrectly. For example, grocery and pharmacy clerks donned masks, but wore them below their noses, breathing in unfiltered air.

Other workers in hardware and home stores left masks hanging around their necks while talking with customers.

A popular barbecue restaurant’s curb service sent waiters out without masks to speak directly into parked car windows, often multiple times while making change and delivering food.

Even a mail carrier chatted with residents along a city sidewalk, with neither wearing a facial covering.

Statewide, health officials are worried as the number of daily hospitalizations soared to nearly 900 over the weekend, with 73% of the state’s hospitals reporting.

And with growing numbers of hospitalizations comes the possibility that Gov. Roy Cooper may on Friday impose a statewide requirement that individuals wear masks when in public. Cooper is considering ramping up the state’s reopening to Phase Three, to allow bars and other recreational facilities to open with some capacity limitations.

Here’s a peak at Rockingham County’s positive case reports since May 6:

  • May 6 to May 13 saw 14 new cases, or a 48% increase.
  • May 13 to May 20 saw 7 new cases, or a 16% increase.
  • May 20 to May 27 saw 28 new cases, or a 56% increase.
  • May 27 to June 3: saw 22 new cases, or a 31 % increase.
  • June 3-June 10: saw 16 new cases, or a 16% increase.
  • June 10-June 17: saw 27 new cases, or 23% increase.
  • June 17-June 24: saw

31 new cases, or a 21% increase.

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