Local News

Wilson: Small gatherings, not churches or schools, to blame for COVID-19 spread

Posted November 18, 2020 5:24 a.m. EST
Updated November 18, 2020 11:32 a.m. EST

A new map that shows which North Carolina counties have the greatest coronavirus spread puts Wilson County in the "red zone."

Wilson, Sampson and Hoke counties are the most at risk in central North Carolina.

Wilson leaders responded to the map Tuesday, saying the new alert system should not be seen as a grade on how well the county is combating the virus.

"The virus does not know county lines," Assistant County Manager Ron Hunt said. "We have no plans to change our current strong mitigation strategies. We have taken this seriously since before the virus arrived here."

Instead, Hunt said the county will continue ramping up coronavirus testing and educating residents on best practices. A large part of that is avoiding small gatherings with friends or extended family, he said, because many people forget to wear a mask and social distance while among people they know well.

"Our contact tracing in Wilson County is showing that our current uptick is definitely from small family gatherings and small group gatherings," Hunt said. "We see no links to schools, churches, large venues, none of that. It's all small gatherings."

Wilson County Health Director Teresa Ellen said the map is not an indication that numbers have changed or that good strategies are not in place.

“Wilson County experienced an increase in cases about four weeks ago," she said. "That is consistent with the rest of North Carolina and the United States."

Ellen said the county's weekly average of active cases has maintained in the 300 to 350 range for the last couple of weeks.

"When looking at this virus, we have to remember that not one measurement provides a complete picture," she said. "The state is using a per 100,000 rate over the last 14 days. In the bigger picture, we continue to see a steady number of active cases and a high rate of recovery."

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