Cluster leads to spike in cases


A Graham County church has been cited as the latest connection to a COVID-19 outbreak.

The Graham County Department of Health & Human Services issued a press release about the latest cluster Monday, reporting that 18 cases have been tied to the congregation since Friday. The release did not identify the church where the outbreak occurred.

“While we always support the right to worship in your faith, we implore you to do so safely,” a portion of the release reads. “Hand-shaking, hugging, standing and sitting close to one another, and any other activities that invite closeness, will put you at risk for contracting COVID-19.

“This is an extremely infectious disease that is costing the lives of loved ones and neighbors.”

The outbreak is the second in the county in a month, as Graham Healthcare & Rehabilitation reported 68 cases – 46 residents, 22 staff (seven that reside outside the county) – and three confirmed deaths on Sept. 24.

A new app released by the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services – titled “SlowCOVIDNC” – was released last week. It helps identify if you come into contact with someone that has or later contracts the virus.

Graham’s 168 cases ranks the county 90th in the state, ahead of Madison (110), Camden (115), Tyrrell (117), Clay (119), Hyde (125), Gates (142), Swain (144), Mitchell (158) and Jones (159) counties. Mecklenburg’s 28,774 and Wake’s 17,651 lead the state.

Graham’s weekly gender and age update – released Sept. 23 – attributed 54 percent of positive cases evenly between the ages of 25-49, as well as 75 and older. Ages 65-74 accounted for 19 percent, with those aged 50-64 making up 18 percent.

Females made up 58 percent of positive Graham County cases, while 39 percent were males. The remaining three percent were marked as “unknown,” which means the patient’s data is incomplete in the state COVID system.