GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Gaston County leaders announced two new programs designed to help slow the spread of coronavirus and said state health officials are pleased with how schools in the county are handling new COVID-19 cases.
"Mask Together" is the first campaign in Gaston County's newest initiative, "Gaston Saves," which encourages people to make safe choices while out in public during a pandemic.
Public health director Steve Eaton said overall COVID-19 numbers in the county are trending down, but the percent of tests coming back positive remained stubbornly high.
He said the county's goal is under five percent, but right now, it's at around 11 percent.
"We have to remain diligent as a community especially heading into a holiday weekend," Eaton said.
According to the Gaston County coronavirus dashboard, the county has 1,195 active cases. So far, Gaston County has reported 4,149 positive tests, with 11.59% of all tests coming back positive. Sixty-six people deaths in the county have been related to COVID-19.
Eaton said he's pleased with how schools in Gaston County have handled in-person instruction during the pandemic. While there have been positive cases, Eaton said all of them were transmitted outside of school buildings.
"We've been really pleased with the work of the schools," Eaton said. "We worked closely with them over the summer and are really pleased with they work that they're doing."
North Carolina health officials reported 1,129 new cases on Wednesday, down from Tuesday's report of over 2,100. North Carolina DHHS has reported 170,553 lab-confirmed cases with 2,779 deaths as of Wednesday.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced North Carolina will begin "Phase 2.5" of coronavirus reopening Friday. This will allow gyms and museums to reopen with limited capacity. Fitness studios can open with 30% capacity, while museums and aquariums are permitted to open with 50% capacity. Bars and other entertainment venues, such as concert halls, remain closed.
Here's what's changing in North Carolina during Phase 2.5
- Mass gathering limits will increase to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors from the previous limit of 10 indoors and 25 outdoors.
- Playgrounds may open.
- Museums and aquariums may open at 50% capacity.
- Gyms and indoor exercise facilities, such as yoga studios, martial arts, and rock climbing, as well as skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor basketball, volleyball etc., may open at 30% capacity.
- Bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, indoor entertainment facilities, amusement parks, dance halls will remain closed.
- Large venues remain subject to the mass gathering limits.