By Kendall McGee | June 5, 2020 at 4:00 PM EDT – Updated June 5 at 6:54 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – The Cape Fear region saw a record number of new coronavirus cases in one day this week.
A total of 62 new cases were reported in New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender, Bladen, and Columbus counties on Thursday. The next closest spike happened back on April 29 when the area saw 43 cases in a single day, 38 of which were attributed to Columbus County because of outbreaks in congregate living facilities.
Both New Hanover and Bladen counties reported more new cases Thursday than any day prior.
Dr. Philip Brown, the executive vice president and chief physician executive at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, says the numbers don’t come as a surprise.
“This particular spike likely correlates to the Mother’s Day time frame. So it’s really important to understand these increases in numbers we’re seeing do not represent what happened over the Memorial Day holiday yet and they do not represent what’s happening based on community activities this week. These results are from the past, at least three weeks back and now we’re starting to see what happened,” said Brown.
Brown confirms the spike in cases isn’t necessarily due to more testing either; the statistics show a higher positivity rate, meaning more people are actually getting sick.
State numbers released Friday show a decreased number of tests, the highest positivity percentage in the last month, and a new record high of cases.
“Those are warning signs… Secretary [Mandy] Cohen put out that rate of positivity as one of the major triggers. Our local experience is the same as the statewide experience. It’s not a time to panic, but it is a time to take action. It is a time to understand we’re still very much in the thick of this despite how much unrest is happening,” said Brown. “COVID is real and it’s a profound threat and we have to manage it.”
Medical professionals expected to see the trend and say the weeks businesses shut down and people stayed at home allowed for the hospital to get prepared for what’s to come.
Brown says it’ll likely take up to three and a half weeks before we get a snapshot of what the virus is doing right now. While the virus has an incubation period of five to 14 days, for many, the disease gets increasingly more serious seven to ten days after the person first sees symptoms, which is when people generally seek medical help and get tested.
The most important message doctors want to get to the community is that despite the state beginning to reopen, we’re not out of the woods yet. Now is more important than ever to be diligent about wearing masks and staying physically distant from other people if you must venture out.
“The rate of people wearing masks has decreased and that carries a significant danger to us. As we open the economy and do things safely, wearing masks is one of the most important things we can do to minimize the spread of disease. We really need to re-double our efforts in wearing masks in public and we need everyone to understand how important this is and to continue to do what was being done early on in the pandemic,” he said.
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