With the number of hospitalizations and deaths attributed to COVID-19 steadily increasing in Iredell County, local officials are urging residents to follow public health mandates over the holidays.

County Manager Beth Jones provided the latest COVID-19 stats during Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting — and all of the data, she said, has been trending in the wrong direction since mid-October.

Iredell is one of 48 counties in the state classified as critical. There have been almost 7,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county and 85 reported deaths as of Wednesday.

The county’s 14-day positive test rate is currently 12.8 percent, which is the highest it has been since the pandemic began in March, Jones said.

And 62 people who have tested positive are currently hospitalized in the county, threatening to overburden frontline healthcare providers and limiting capacity to care for other serious injuries and ailments.

“We are rapidly approaching the point where our hospitals are literally running out of beds,” Chairman James Mallory said during the meeting.

Mallory stressed the importance of wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing and adhering to the state’s Modified Stay-At-Home Order, which includes a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

Wearing a face covering can reduce the odds of becoming infected by 77 percent, and social distancing can reduce the chances by 87 percent, according to Iredell health officials.

“This is really serious stuff,” Mallory said. “It’s simply about looking out for your neighbor, your family and co-workers.”

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