Rowan Health Department reports rise in COVID-19 cases

Instead of relying on test results to track COVID-19, Rowan Public Health says it is now able...
Instead of relying on test results to track COVID-19, Rowan Public Health says it is now able to monitor the virus through wastewater monitoring systems.(WBTV File)
Published: Aug. 22, 2023 at 6:19 AM EDT
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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - In recent weeks, North Carolina has experienced a significant rise in COVID-19 cases, highlighting the ongoing presence of the virus and the need for sustained preventative actions.

“Rowan County is also seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases reminding us all that we must continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of this virus to others, especially to vulnerable populations,” said Courtney Meece of Rowan Co. Public Health.

The mission of public health is to promote prevention efforts before large portions of the population become sick. Communities often see a pattern of increased illness during the first weeks back to school, the fall, and winter as we see more time spent indoors. Instead of relying on test results to track COVID-19, we are now able to monitor the virus through wastewater monitoring systems. 

These systems analyze sewage samples for traces of the virus’s genetic material providing valuable insights into the prevalence of the virus at a population level. Rowan County continues to have two sites for reviewing wastewater information as a way to monitor COVID-19. Wastewater surveillance has emerged as a powerful and innovative tool in the fight against COVID-19, providing critical insights into the prevalence and spread of the virus within communities.

Residents are urged to remain vigilant and continue practicing recommended preventive measures:

  • Monitor your health: Pay attention to any symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, fatigue, and body aches. Seek medical attention if you experience severe symptoms.
  • Hand hygiene: Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in public places, touching surfaces, or coughing/sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact: Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you are feeling unwell, stay at home to prevent spreading the virus to others.
  • Respiratory etiquette: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of tissues properly and wash your hands immediately.
  • Mask-wearing: Wear a mask, especially in crowded or indoor settings. Masks help prevent the spread of respiratory droplets that may contain the virus.
  • Quarantine and isolation: If you test positive for COVID-19, follow the recommended quarantine and isolation guidelines to prevent further spread of the virus. Isolate for five days and then continuing wearing a mask when around other for an additional five days.
  • Vaccination: COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Call the Rowan County Public Health Department or your primary care provider to receive your COVID-19 vaccine.

‘In this critical juncture, Rowan County Public Health is committed to using innovative approaches to combat the challenges posed by COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses,” Meece added. “Our goal is to keep the community up to date so that you can make informed decisions for your health.”