Hickory – With more community spread happening in Catawba County and across the state, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is now recommending that more people get tested for COVID-19.

On Tuesday, the county marked its highest single-day increase in the number of people diagnosed with COVID-19. On Wednesday, the number of local residents hospitalized reached the highest to date at 12.

Through contact tracing, more than three-fourths of cases in Catawba County can be attributed to community spread or close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

“COVID-19 is actively spreading in the county, and we encourage all residents to continue to take prevention guidelines seriously, not only to protect themselves, but to also protect their families, friends and neighbors,” said Catawba County Health Director Jennifer McCracken. “Because a single infected person can potentially spread the disease to many other people, it is important to follow the three Ws (Wait, Wear, Wash) when you leave home, especially as restrictions are eased.”

• Wear a cloth face covering if you will be with other people.

• Wait 6 feet apart. Avoid close contact.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.

Increased testing, including for those without noticeable symptoms, and adherence to control measures like self-isolation and quarantine are important to stopping the spread of COVID-19 across Catawba County.

Diagnostic testing is now recommended for:

• Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.

• Close contacts of known positive cases, regardless of symptoms.

• Populations with higher risk of exposure or a higher risk of severe disease if they become infected, if they believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19, whether or not they have symptoms.

• People who have attended protests, rallies, or other mass gatherings could have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or could have exposed others. Testing should be considered for people who attended such events, particularly if they were in crowds or other situations where they couldn’t practice effective social distancing.

Diagnostic testing is now widely available in Catawba County through primary care providers, urgent cares and is beginning to be offered statewide in some pharmacies. Catawba County Public Health is also offering testing primarily for individuals who are uninsured or who do not have ready access to healthcare elsewhere.

An online tool to help individuals make the decision on whether to get tested is available at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/about-covid-19/symptoms. The tool helps link individuals with locations that are providing COVID-19 testing.