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Case rise prompts reminder about gathering safely

Beaufort County health officials are urging people to be more proactive to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

According to Beaufort County Health Director Jim Madson, the county’s average new case count has gone up 30%, from 10 per day to 13 per day.

“Our trend is going up, so soon, it’s going to catch up to our worst, which was 17 per day, if we keep going in this direction,” Madson said.

Madson said a few factors could be contributing to the increase, including that antigen tests, which have a higher instance of false positives, are being used more, but the real culprit is likely socializing.

“I’ve also been looking at our contact tracing, and a lot of the cases are linked to group activities over the weekend. We’re seeing a lot of them linked to those kind of things, and a lot linked to family units. You’ll have one person, then you’ll get four or five of their family members,” Madson said. “I think it’s the weekend gatherings. We’re doing good during our business days, but when we get together with our family and friends, we tend to drop our guard and, of course, all it takes is one person in that group.”

Madson said there have also been reports of people being tested but not isolating themselves between the test and the results, and interacting with others before the results are known.

“If you’re not feeling good or have been tested, refrain from taking part in these weekend activities,” he said.

The trend in rising cases is not limited to Beaufort County; most states are experiencing the same. With Halloween and Thanksgiving approaching, the concern is those holidays will account for more gathering, leading to more COVID-19 cases. Holiday planning should include planning to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.

“When I’m saying that the new spread is due to gatherings, that includes things like Thanksgiving — maybe plan for smaller Thanksgiving gatherings this year. I don’t recommend not having Thanksgiving at all, but we just need to think about it differently,” Madson said.

The latest update from Beaufort County Health Department and Beaufort County Emergency Services reports an increase of ?? cases from Thursday to Friday and ?? Beaufort County residents have died due to COVID-19-related complications.