CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. — The Cabarrus Health Alliance is investigating COVID-19 outbreaks at several events that were held within the past two weeks.
According to health officials, more than 18 people were infected when large groups gathered for a wedding, an Easter family gathering and birthday parties.
In most of these cases, the number of attendees was below 10, which highlights the need for following all the recommended guidelines, according to Erin Shoe, Chief Operating Officer at CHA, Cabarrus County’s public health authority.
“Less than 10 isn’t some magic number that prevents the spread of the virus,” Shoe said. “There’s a reason for the stay at home proclamation (put into effect by the County and municipalities on March 26 and revised on March 31), and there are real, consequential effects of not following that order and socializing and interacting in groups outside your family nucleus.”
Cabarrus Health Alliance's public health director Bonnie Coyle said nearly all of the gatherings had less than 10 people, which, she argues, highlights the need for social distancing.
"We have a number of examples in this country where family members are now dead as a result of getting together for a family gathering of only 10 or 15 people," Coyle said. "That is a big risk."
CHA said more people in the county are taking that risk, and Coyle hopes by bringing attention to the small gatherings, it'll encourage people to social distance.
"You want to really limit your contact in general, and stay around just your family members who live with you," Coyle said.
These types of gatherings are a growing trend locally, according to clinical investigators.
“One of the most frustrating things for our new positive cases is that they tell us ‘yeah, I had a party this weekend’ or ‘I had a get-together this weekend,’ ” said Dr. Natasha Mofrad, a member of the CHA’s clinical investigation team. “Some people are feeling more comfortable and they are starting to have small gatherings, and then we’re seeing many people (at those gatherings) getting sick.”
It’s important for Cabarrus residents to remain vigilant about following all the recommended guidelines, Shoe said. “And that doesn’t just mean having less than 10 people at a gathering. It means staying at home. It means wearing masks in public. It means social distancing regardless of where you are.
“It means doing your part to help stop the spread locally.”
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