Three churches in Caldwell County have reported clusters of COVID-19 cases stemming from church gatherings.
The three clusters account for 39 cases of the coronavirus, but there could be more cases associated with the clusters if people who contracted the virus from the churches live in other counties, Caldwell County Public Information Officer Paige Counts said.
The first cluster was reported at Poarch Chapel Missionary Methodist Church on N.C. 18 on Sept. 23. There are 10 cases associated with the cluster that have been reported to the Caldwell County Health Department.
A second cluster was reported at West Lenoir Baptist Church on Sept. 30, Counts said. There are 18 cases in Caldwell County residents, but the church has reported at least 30 cases connected to the cluster, Counts said.
The third cluster was reported on Oct. 8 at Cornerstone Covenant Church in Hudson, where 11 cases are related to the church.
Caldwell County has two other active COVID-19 clusters, one at Merchant Distributors, where nine cases are related to the cluster, and one at Moravian Prep school where there are five cases.
In Catawba County, there were 50 new cases reported on Tuesday, the highest daily increase in cases since early August, according to Catawba County Public Health. It is the fourth highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases.
There have been 3,681 total cases since the pandemic began. There have been 277 new cases in the past seven days, putting the average daily increase at 39.5 for the past seven days.
One additional coronavirus-related death was reported in Catawba County on Tuesday, the third day in a row a new death was reported. The latest was a person in their 70s who was hospitalized and was considered high risk. They are not associated with a congregate care facility.
There are 21 county residents hospitalized with the virus, according to public health.
Statewide, North Carolina saw 1,734 cases on Tuesday, putting the state total at 234,481 cases, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
There are 1,103 people hospitalized with the virus and 3,816 people have died.
The rising number of cases in the state is concerning for state leaders, NCDHHS Sec. Mandy Cohen said at a press conference Tuesday. There is no one cause of the increase, but the virus spreads when people don’t wear a mask or stay distanced, she said.
“Our current worsening trends don’t link to any one place, any one age group or any one type of activity,” Cohen said. “... This worsening of our trends is concerning and we need to do all we can to turn those trends around.”
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