Wilkes County reached a milestone of 100 officially confirmed deaths related to COVID-19 with a death reported Friday.

It was the ninth COVID-19-related Wilkes death reported in February and continued a pace that includes 21 such Wilkes deaths reported in December and 19 in January.

There were 101 COVID-19-related deaths reported in Wilkes by Monday, which brought the total to 50 for December, January and the first 22 days of February combined.

Before December, the most deaths reported in one month in Wilkes was 13 in both November and August.

The first confirmed COVID-19-related death of a Wilkes resident occurred on March 31. At least half of the Wilkes deaths were residents of long-term care facilities and most were people with pre-existing health conditions.

COVID-19-related death totals for adjoining counties by Monday were Alexander, 72; Alleghany, 4; Ashe, 40; Caldwell, 66; Iredell, 185; Surry, 129; Watauga, 29; and Yadkin, 45.

N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) COVID-19 dashboard currently has demographic data on COVID-19-related deaths through the end of January, but this data for Wilkes is incomplete. However, the Wilkes deaths generally range from people in their 40s to their 90s.

By the end of January statewide:

• 60% of those who died were 75 and older, 23% were 65-74, 13% were 50-64 and 3% were 25-49;

• 66% of those who died were white, 25% were Black and 7% were other;

• deaths peaked in early January.

According to DHHS, deaths aren’t counted as COVID-19-related unless the individuals tested positive for the virus and wasn’t considered recovered before death occurred.

Although the number of COVID-19-related deaths in Wilkes remains up, new cases of COVID-19 among Wilkes residents are dropping.

The number of new Wilkes cases per 100,000 people for the prior two weeks was down to 342 Monday, the lowest it’s been since September. On Friday, it was 462 for Wilkes.

Among adjoining counties Monday, Ashe had 320 new cases per 100,00 people in the prior two weeks; Watauga, 482; Caldwell, 380; Alexander, 549; Iredell, 480; Yadkin, 441; Surry, 719; and Alleghany, 350.

On Friday, Surry had 855 new cases per 100,000 people in the prior two weeks; Watauga, 514; Alexander, 579; Iredell, 528; Yadkin, 467; Caldwell, 392; Alleghany, 440; and Ashe, 323.

New cases are also decreasing statewide.

As of Monday, 5,905 Wilkes residents had tested positive since the pandemic started. Wilkes had 162 active cases Monday, with 23 hospitalized.

Among these 5,905 cases, 35% were ages 25-49, 23% were ages 50-64, 12% were up to age 17, 11% were 65-74, 11% were 18-24 and 9% were 75 and older.

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