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A recent rapid increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases in Wilkes County, primarily due to an outbreak at the Tyson Foods Inc. chicken processing complex in Wilkesboro, has drawn national attention.

A story in Wednesday’s New York Times placed the North Wilkesboro “metro area” (Wilkes County) first in the nation among the 15 “metro areas” with the highest average daily growth rate of COVID-19 cases in the prior two weeks.

The Times listed the North Wilkesboro metro area (Wilkes) with 304 new cases in the prior two-week period on Wednesday. That meant a daily growth rate of 9% and that COVID-19 cases doubled here every 8.1 days.

The Winston-Salem metro area ranked sixth and Hickory-Lenoir metro area ranked 12th on that list Wednesday.

On the same list in Friday’s issue of the New York Times, the North Wilkesboro metro area (Wilkes) was ranked fifth with 270 new cases in the prior two weeks. That meant a daily growth rate of 6% and that cases doubled every 11.7 days.

Also on Wednesday in the New York Times, the North Wilkesboro metro area (Wilkes) ranked eighth in the nation among the 15 “metro areas with the most recent cases” of COVID-19 per 1,000 residents in the last two weeks. It ranked ninth on Friday.

Like Wilkes County, many of the metro areas on these top 15 lists in the New York Times have meat processing facilities with COVID-19 outbreaks.

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