The regular meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners held on Monday Oct. 19 was opened up with a COVID update by Lincoln County Health Director Davin Madden. Lincoln County is 220 days into the COVID pandemic, which is, as Madden pointed out, a long period of time. As of Monday, 2,135 Lincoln County residents have tested positive for coronavirus. Of those, 1,937 have recovered which is a 99.2% recovery rate. There are currently 180 active cases. There has been 18 deaths and Madden anticipates more.

“I am thankful there have been only 18,” he said. “My heart goes out to the families who have lost those loved ones. It’s still a low number.”

The state has changed contract tracing protocols so even with 180 active cases, the Lincoln County Health Department is able to manage it, according to Madden.  

The hospital system has been “a little bit embattled” with the spike in cases, Madden said because we’re definitely in a second wave.

“I don’t know where we are in this second wave, if we’ve hit the peak,” he said. “If you look at the epi curve it looks like we’re getting close if we’re not already there. Time will tell because there’s still some delay in case reporting. Thankfully the labs are getting much better.”

There have been 57 new cases from the weekend, Madden reported, but that’s better than last Monday which was 87.

Average daily cases for the month of October have been 22 cases, according to Madden. 

“That’s still not alarming for us,” he said. “That number has been holding for a while. We don’t want it to be high, but it hasn’t been going up. Of those cases 9.8% were ages 0-17.”

Madden wanted to bring that percentage to the attention of the commissioners because of the concerns about children returning to school. The senior population – 65 and up has gone up, 20% in October. For the past three days, positivity rate has been around 8%, according to Madden. For the past seven days, it’s been around 11%.

“We want the positivity rate for testing to be less than 10%,” he said. “We really want it to be below 5%. Given the activity of COVID in our community, it’s unlikely to be that low. The past 14 days have been around 11% as well.”

After asked by Commissioner Bud Cesena Madden said that there are approximately six individuals in ICU related to COVID and one person on a ventilator. It should be noted that when Times-News has requested that information from Madden, he’s said that he doesn’t have access to it and Atrium Health-Lincoln has refused to release the information stating privacy.

“I think the hospitals still have the resources to handle the activity that is currently happening,” he said.

Madden advised that there will be a free drive-through testing event in Lincoln County in November beginning on the 3rd.

“They promised us a 24-hour turnaround which will be exciting for our community,” he said. “We’ll be putting out a notice once it’s on our website.”

Cesena asked about whether Lincoln County was in the red zone, to which Madden replied that yes, at one point it was considered a hot zone. At that time, 52 counties out of 100 had been flagged. To be in a “red zone” a county will have had more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people and more than 10.1% of tests returning positive.

Based on a report for governors from the White House Coronavirus Task Force obtained by ABC News for the week of Oct. 3-9, Lincoln County was in the red zone.

“It was mostly rural counties and they saw a number of increases of positives per day,” he said. “You have to look at that through more than one lens. Statistically speaking, the increase was a small number of cases, but they were using a percent growth which is why they flagged us.”

As he’s said in the past, Madden looks at the full picture which is hospital management, total positivity rate and total distribution of confirmed cases across the county.

“I have access to a set of graphs that I don’t share with the public that I use to monitor potential outbreaks and clusters so that if we do see an early warning, we can hopefully get some surveillance going or reach out with our epi team,” he said. “As it stands right now, the distribution of cases, although they’re higher than they’ve been in the past, they’re still proportional to the different regions in Lincoln County. I’m not seeing anything that really stands out.”

Public Works Director Don Chamblee gave capital improvement project updates for public utilities and solid waste which included the Hoyle Creek Force Main replacement, Highway 73 Ingleside Waterline, Reepsville Road Waterline – connection to the City of Lincolnton, water line to Highway 73 from Airlie, the water treatment plant, Killian Creek waste water treatment plant, the solid waste Optimist Club and airport sites.

Other business

  • A proposal for an Economic Development Industrial Incentive Grant for Taiji Medical Supplies presented by Kara Brown of the Lincoln Economic Development Association was approved.
  • Economic Development Building Reuse Application also for Taiji Medical Supplies was tabled.
  • Commissioners approved 2021 CTP Application for a transportation grant in the amount of $80,000 presented by Kathryn Saine, director of Lincoln County Senior Services for transportation for both senior services and Lincoln County Veteran’s Services. 
  • A FY2022 Community Transportation Program Grant and Consolidated Capital Application presented by Andrew Bryant was approved.
  • Patty Dellinger and Tommy Houser presented the annual soil and water report.
  • Resolution Conveyance of used computers to Kramden Institute a 501(c)(3) non-profit pursuant to NCGS 160A-279 was presented by John Henry and approved. The Kramden Institute refurbishes and redistributes computers to students who cannot afford them.
  • Don Chamblee presented a Lincoln County Sewer Disconnect Policy for accounts that are delinquent which the commissioners approved.
  • The commissioners approved the construction contract for the Hoyle Creek Force Main Replacement project.

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