Lincoln County has moved into the red zone of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 County Alert System. The county is not alone in this designation. The entire state is now predominately red or orange. When the alert system was first released on Nov. 17, Lincoln County was in the yellow zone meaning there was significant community spread. With the second release two weeks later (Nov. 23), the county was in the orange zone indicating substantial community spread. In the most recent release (Dec. 8), Lincoln County has joined neighboring Catawba and Gaston Counties in the red zone.
In the most recent press release from the Lincoln County Health Department on Dec. 8, there have been a total of 3,901 positive COVID cases, 408 of them active and 31 deaths. That’s an increase of 132 active cases and one death in just four days from the last release on Dec. 4.
In his most recent update on Tuesday, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper announced a modified stay-at-home order to go into effect this Friday, Dec. 11 through Jan. 8, 2021. This new order, termed in the executive order as a “dimmer switch” approach means North Carolina residents must be at home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. This requirement, according to Cooper is to avoid larger, uninhibited gatherings that tend to happen later in the evening.
“This stay-at-home order tells people that at 10, they need to go home because they’re safer at home,” he said. “This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be careful from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the day. You need to be careful during the day.”
All Phase 3 capacity and other public health restrictions remain in place, except sale and service of alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption has to end at 9 p.m. The sale and on-site consumption of alcoholic beverages from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. are restricted for the duration of the executive order.
According to the order, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and NCDHHS have stated that the consumption of alcohol lowers inhibitions and makes people more likely to engage in behaviors that increase the risk of spread of COVID-19. Also, people who are drinking beverages, can’t consistently wear face coverings, often speak loudly, laugh, yell or sing which spreads respiratory droplets that may contain COVID-19 virus.
To be assigned to the red or orange tier, according to a press release issued by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, a county must meet the threshold for case rates for that tier and the threshold for either percent positive or hospital impact.
- Case Rate – the number of new cases in 14 days per 100,000 people
- Percent Positive – the percent of tests that are positive over 14 days
- Hospital Impact – a composite score based on the impact
Those counties in the red tier have a greater than 10% percent positive test rate, more than 200 new cases per 100,000 in 14 days with at least 42 cases in 14 days. In the red tier, there’s a high impact on county hospitals. The percent positive and hospitalization data is readily available to the public in Lincoln County.