Gaston County experiences sharp spike in coronavirus cases

Gaston Co. sees alarming spike in COVID-19 cases

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Gaston County health officials say COVID-19 cases have drastically spiked in the last few weeks.

According to Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services, there was a 312 percent increase in cases in less than three weeks. Gaston County Public Health Director Steve Eaton said the spike is not just because of an increase in testing.

“What’s alarming is the number of new positives in relation to the total number tested,” Eaton said. “Which in May it was around 5 percent and currently it’s around 11.5 percent which is quite a big increase.”

Health officials say the spike is likely due to community spread, meaning they cannot trace it back to a particular event or gathering.

However, they do say the timing of the increase could point back to Memorial Day weekend gatherings.

“We began to notice the change shortly after Memorial Day weekend,” Eaton said. “So certainly coming out of the holiday and then also with easing of restrictions, I think individuals were feeling more comfortable moving in the community and not taking precautions when they did.”

Health officials say the Latinx Community makes up 30 percent of COVID-19 cases despite making up only 7 percent of the total population in Gaston County.

Eaton said they are working to bring more testing to largely Hispanic communities and are ensuring messaging is also displayed in Spanish.

On Thursday, Kintegra Health set up a mobile testing site in front of the Wow Supermarket in Gastonia.

Manager Henry Urbanczyk sais they accept insurance but you do not have to provide insurance to be tested.

“We’re testing anybody that wants to be tested,” Urbanczyk said. “You don’t have to have symptoms because we’re finding a lot of asymptomatic people are testing positive. They are carriers of the virus and they don’t even know it.”

Robin Conner, a commissioner in Ranlo, was tested at the site on Thursday.

She said she was not showing any symptoms but wanted to make sure she was not asymptomatic.

“Before I really advocate for that, I thought I should make sure to get myself tested before I encourage other people to do that,” Conner said. “When I go out, I see a few people wearing masks and that really concerns me. It just seemed like everything went back to normal and then to the spike, It’s like Woah.”

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