Ahead of holiday weekend, health officials warn public not to let down guard in COVID fight

Independence Day weekend is typically marked by cookouts, beach outings and firework displays.

This year, those traditions come with added risk.

COVID-19 continues to spread widely with 1,186 new cases diagnosed on Tuesday, and more than 64,670 positive cases of the virus statewide.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen stresses the importance of wearing a mask in public.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said while many cases can be attributed to the spread in nursing homes, 45% of the state’s cases involve persons who are ages 25-49. Another 13% of the cases are among 18-24-year-olds.

“We need to prevent this virus from spreading further. States like Arizona, Texas, Florida and others are cautionary tales that show us this virus can surge and surge quickly,” warned Cohen.

“This July 4th weekend, make sure that you are making plans to celebrate that involve wearing a face covering, avoiding large crowds, and washing your hands often.”

NCDHHS also announced plans Tuesday to partner with CVS Omnicare to make facility-wide testing available to residents and staff in all of North Carolina’s private skilled-nursing facilities.

The initiative will cover more that 400 nursing homes in our state with approximately 36,000 residents and more than 30,000 staff. Testing will begin this month and continue through August.

And as testing continues to ramp-up, there was a new appeal for help from the federal government.

“Commercial and hospital labs across the country, including here in North Carolina, are again running into shortages of important chemicals called reagents that are needed to process tests,”explained Sec. Cohen.

“As a result, labs are seeing back-ups in processing samples and are taking longer to provide results. Federal action is needed to help address these supply issues.”

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