By Abi Cole
Sandy Mush – COVID-19 cases in North Carolina have hit an all-time high in recent weeks. Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services, said that North Carolina is experiencing its “first wave,” or peak of coronavirus cases. “That timing is very much linked to the last two to three weeks,” Cohen said at a Friday press conference. “It’s very much linked to when we started reopening.” North Carolina began its first phase of reopening on May 8 with a second phase starting May 22.
Accompanying the flux in cases is an increase in testing statewide. 42,911 cases are confirmed by testing sites throughout the state. Buncombe County has hosted a series of free test sites in the past month issued by Blue Ridge testing. As of June 11, Buncombe County residents have 418 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19. The county now ranks as the 27th highest number of cases in the state. Charlotte’s Mecklenburg County leads with nearly 7,000 cases.
The rural northwestern part of Buncombe County known as Sandy Mush hosted one of those sites. The event had 53 Sandy Mush residents who were tested on May 27. One person has been confirmed positive for COVID-19. Buncombe County intends to schedule more tests in the near future of different locations throughout the county.
In light of the recent spike, Governor Roy Cooper stated that he has not made a decision on moving into the next phase of reopening the state. In the past week, each new day has brought 1,000 more confirmed cases across the state.
An interim transition stage, called Phase 2.5 could begin as soon as June 26. Cooper has not elaborated on the provisions of this phase but commented that bars and gyms may be included in the interim phase. With his re-election looming in November, his response to this pandemic may have a bearing on whether he’s still in office in 2021.