Surry County’s infected total has dipped this week, but local leaders want to make sure that citizens don’t let up in the fight against COVID-19.
The county continues to see positive test results climb, but in general the number of new cases is equaling the ones who have improved and are considered recovered.
Still, healthcare leaders believe this isn’t the time to let up, especially since the percentage of sick patients who have died has climbed in the past two months.
Surry County had its first death related to the virus on May 1 when a senior male with a history of health issues grew worse once he contracted the virus and died.
The next death didn’t occur for 24 days.
On May 1 the total case count for the county stood at only 17. On May 25 it was 168.
By the middle of July Surry was up to 568 cases, but only one more death to put the total at three. At that rate, the county had only one death for every 189 positive cases.
Over that past eight and a half weeks, however, that death rate has been significantly higher.
Officials with the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center released the latest data Friday. Surry has had 1,247 positive cases with 21 deaths.
Cutting out the 568 and three deaths by mid-July, then in the past eight weeks, the county has seen 679 cases and 17 deaths. This is a rate of one death for every 39.9 positive patients detected. This is about four and a half times higher than before July 15.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the death rate actually is higher now than months before. With the number of positive tests growing, the spread across the county may have reached more people than just the ones who have been tested. That number of 1,247 may be far off from the actual number of people who have caught the bug.
In either case, local officials don’t want to see that death toll keep rising.
John Shelton, director of Surry County Emergency Services, said the local hospitals took the lead on trying to get groups and organizations to come together in support of wearing face masks.
Paul Hammes, CEO of Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, shared a document that Hugh Chatham and Northern Regional Hospital have supported and have gotten others to jump on board.
This is the document:
An Open Letter to the Yadkin Valley
Every community has something that makes it a special place, different from the rest. We are very blessed in the Yadkin Valley, where so many things make this such a wonderful place to live, work, and play: our waters, trails, farmland, arts, and most of all … our people. With an unwavering sense of community and caring, we reach out and lend a hand to those in need — it’s simply who we are.
And now more than ever, it’s who we need to be.
The global pandemic has changed life for us all — tragically for some — and there are more questions than answers. But here’s what we do know:
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the following are a high risk for severe illness if they become infected with covid-19: Older members of our community; pregnant mothers; citizens with a history of cancer, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), diabetes, heart disease, asthma, high blood pressure, kidney disease, liver disease, and obesity.
Something else we know? Face masks and coverings are proven to slow the spread of covid-19.
By wearing face masks or coverings, we can lower the risk of infection to our family, friends and neighbors. We can get back to business and back to work. And our local economy can prosper again.
On behalf of the organizations we represent and for the good health of our entire community, we invite you to join us as we each do our part, to MASK THE VALLEY. It is the right thing to do!
At the end of the letter is a list of those who have announced their support.
Along with Hammes and Hugh Chatham is Chris Lumsden, CEO/president of Northern Regional. The others are:
Surry County EMS – John Shelton, director
Surry County Schools – Dr. Travis Reeves, superintendent
Mount Airy City Schools – Dr. Kim Morrison, superintendent
Elkin City Schools – Dr. Myra Cox, superintendent
Yadkin County Schools – Dr. Todd Martin, superintendent
City of Mount Airy – David Rowe, mayor
Town of Elkin – Sam Bishop, mayor
Town of Jonesville – Gene Pardue, mayor
Town of Pilot Mountain – Evan Cockerham, mayor
Town of Ronda – Victor Varela, mayor
Town of Yadkinville – Eddie Norman, mayor
Surry County Economic Development Partnership – Todd Tucker, president
Surry Communications – Richie Parker, CEO
Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce – Randy Collins, president/CEO
Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce – Mike Bovender, board chair
Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce – Lisa Reavis Drum, board chair
Yadkin Valley Rotary Club – Anita Darnell, president
Surry Medical Ministries – Dr. David Dixon, medical director
Explore Elkin – Jeff Eidson
Elkin Valley Trails Association – Rusty Tysor, board chair
Yadkin Valley Sewer Authority – Nicole Johnston, executive director