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The original item was published from 11/19/2020 2:44:00 PM to 12/24/2020 1:45:20 PM.

News Flash

Health Department

Posted on: November 18, 2020

[ARCHIVED] COVID-19 County Alert

The NC DHHS COVID-19 County Alert System is a report published by the state. This report will be updated the second week of each month. Currently, Wilkes County is RED county. 

To learn more or view the document click here.


On Tuesday the State of North Carolina released a new COVID-19 County Alert System to track how counties are faring during the pandemic. Wilkes County has been categorized as “red”, meaning that there is critical community spread occurring in the area. The categorization is based on a number of metrics, but the most notable is that Wilkes County has experienced nearly 400 new cases over the last two weeks. Only four counties have more infections during that period. The percent of positive tests in Wilkes County is 10.5%; only seven counties have a higher percentage. 

These metrics indicate that Wilkes County has entered a dangerous new phase of the pandemic. Hospitalizations and deaths, indicators that usually lag behind new cases, will increase in the coming weeks. Case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths will all continue to increase unimpeded unless residents change their behaviors. The three Ws -wearing a face covering, waiting six feet apart, washing hands frequently- are critical but insufficient on their own. Residents must also avoid gathering with anyone outside their immediate household, isolate if experiencing systems, and stay home as much as possible. Residents who have been exposed or are experiencing symptoms must get tested so that health authorities can swiftly identify others whom they might have exposed, and advise them on how to isolate safely and break the chain of transmission. 

Wilkes Health Director Rachel Willard stated, “In an effort to slow the spread, I am urging everyone over the next four weeks to truly limit interactions to those within your immediate household. While the holidays are upon us, I insist that people try to keep it virtual and only go out for essential trips or work. While I discourage gathering with others, I understand sometimes it is necessary. If you have to gather with others, I ask that you take the following steps to ensure the health and safety for you and our community: keep it small, keep it outdoors, keep mask on at all times, and go get tested ahead of time. Testing is widely available throughout the county. Please call Wilkes Health at 336.651.7449 or your local provider to schedule a test.”

Notwithstanding the severe public health danger that a prolonged pandemic poses, the economic and community impact will be crippling for years to come. As long as the current conditions exist, businesses will not be able to fully reopen, schools will be at risk for closure, large gatherings will remain prohibited, and the rhythms of day-to-day life will continue to be interrupted. Focused action by all residents is required now to slow community spread and bring the virus back under control.

If you go out you should practice the three W’s: Wear, Wait, and Wash. 

•Wear a face covering, 

•Wait 6 feet apart from other people. 

•Wash your hands often and

How to Protect Yourself:

  • Practice social distancing which means avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people, keeping 6 feet or more between you and others and remaining at home to the greatest extent possible
  • Frequent hand washing
  • Cover your cough or sneeze
  • Keep distance from others who are sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces in common areas like doorknobs, remotes, lightswitches, tables and handles
  • Wear cloth mask or face covering when out in public where you may be around people like grocery stores or pharmacies.

COVID-19 Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. According to the CDC, people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of reported symptoms.

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

People at high risk include anyone who:

  • Is 65 years of age or older
  • Lives in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Have a high-risk condition that includes: 
    1. Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    2. Heart disease with complications
    3. Compromised immune system
    4. Severe obesity – body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
    5. Other underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease
  • Pregnant Women

People who are at high risk should stay home to the greatest extent possible to decrease the chance of infection.

Additional Resources: 


Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website at   


North Carolina resources can be found on the Division of Public Health website at To view the case count for North Carolina, including a county map, please visit the NC DHHS website here



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