Gaston County Health Experts Warn Residents To Not Let Their Guard Down as COVID-19 Cases Rise

GASTONIA, NC – A surge in coronavirus cases in Gaston county as outbreaks in congregate care centers creates concern among local leaders and health experts. 

“Gaston county is getting hit hard,” said Steve Eaton, the Gaston County Public Health Director.

Eaton is urging people to wear masks and stay six feet apart. 

“Every decision we make has an impact on our communities, our families, our coworkers and our friends and our loved ones,” said Eaton.

For the first time since the pandemic began, there are outbreaks in congregate living facilities. 15 residents and two staff members tested positive at the Brian Center Health & Rehabilitation in Gastonia.

Peak Resources, in Cherryville, reported eight positive residents and two staff members.

Holy Angels, in Belmont, had one resident and one staff member test positive.

Carolina Care, in Cherryville, reported two positive residents and four staff members.

Alexandria Place, in Gastonia, had four residents and one staff member test positive.

This is real. It’s really real. And it’s very concerning. The people in the county have to be aware of this,” said Dr. Shirley Ocoloo of Kintegra Health. 

The percent of positive cases in Gaston County has doubled. From nearly 6% in May to now more than 12%. 

In late April, while coronavirus cases were relatively low in Gaston county, commissioners urged businesses to defy state orders and reopen. 

“If you open up your nail salon, my wife will probably come. If you open up a restaurant, I will definitely come and eat,” said Tracy Philbeck, the Commission Chair.

Two months later, the tone from the county manager and health experts is much different. 

“Not doing these simple things can make this bad situation so much worse,” said Kim Eagle, the Gaston County Manager.

“We know people are tired. I’m tired. Tired of living under these new rules that have changed our way of life so much. But this is a marathon and not a sprint,” said Eaton.