Local News

More in NC venturing out as coronavirus caseload growing

Posted October 19, 2020 8:37 p.m. EDT
Updated October 20, 2020 12:39 p.m. EDT

— The daily average of new coronavirus infections in North Carolina has reached unprecedented levels in recent days, but that doesn't appear to be keeping people from going to events that are attracting crowds.

The rolling, seven-day average of new cases was 2,061 per day on Monday, down slightly from the 2,080 per day reported on Sunday. The two days mark the highest averages for the state since the pandemic began more than seven months ago.

With the North Carolina State Fair canceled because of the pandemic, fair organizers arranged to have about two dozen vendors provide takeout versions of their fair favorites at the State Fairgrounds daily during what would have been the fair's Oct. 15-25 run.

The event is designed for people to get their food and leave, but some have said the lines were so long over the weekend that they left because they were worried about the spread of the virus.

“There was lines all around the vendors. We couldn’t get anything," said Aleah Atkins, whose family drove to Raleigh from Caswell County a second time on Monday after getting scared off by the crowds on Sunday.

"There was too many people. They were not 6 feet apart,” Atkins said. "We said, 'No, we’ll come back.'”

People picking up their turkey legs, funnel cakes, cotton candy and fried delicacies at the fairgrounds on Monday were wearing masks and were spaced apart from others.

Judy Harmon, of Angier, said she is among those starting to feel more comfortable with being around crowds – with pandemic-related precautions.

"It’s cooler. It’s not so hot that people can’t get out, and they’re tired. They are tired of being inside,” Harmon said.

That "COVID fatigue" is leading to more cases, according to State Health Director Dr. Betsy Tilson. After seeing spikes in the Black and Latino communities earlier in the pandemic, she said adults in white, rural communities are now getting infected at higher rates.

"As we come into what's going to be a high-risk fall and winter, it's going to be challenging," Tilson said.

More than 8,000 people statewide have been infected since Friday.

"People think it’s a game, but it’s not. It’s real," Tim Atkins said.

Damoni Neal, of Raleigh, said that he also is worried about the state's growing coronavirus caseload.

"We were just on Phase 2. I thought everything was fine. Now we are on Phase 3, and I thought everything was better, but clearly, it’s getting worse," Neal said.

The State Fairgrounds event is outside, which Tilson said is better than being indoors, but she warned that virus transmission is still possible among large crowds.

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