LUMBERTON – While the number of new COVID-19 cases in Robeson County has remained stable over the past seven days, other numbers regarding the virus have improved in the county over the past week.
The Robeson County Health Department reported 159 new cases between October 19 and Monday; this figure is slightly higher than the 155 cases from October 12 to 18. There have now been 26,825 cases of the virus in total in Robeson County since March 2020.
A single death linked to the virus was reported by the Department of Health between October 19 and Monday 424 from the pandemic in Robeson County. That’s down from the four deaths reported from October 12 to 18, and it’s the least in a seven-day period since a week without deaths in mid-July.
The county’s test positivity rate is 5.1% over the past 14 days, fractions above the stated target of 5%.
As of Tuesday, 55,060 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were given in Robeson County, or 42% of the population, according to statistics from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services; 48,879 individuals are considered to be fully vaccinated, or 37%.
African Americans are vaccinated at the highest rate in Robeson County, with 41% having received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to county health department director Bill Smith; 39% of white individuals, 32% of Hispanics, and 29% of Native Americans received at least one dose.
“A recent Italian study found that the average age of people vaccinated to die from complications from COVID was 85 and that they had five underlying diseases,” Smith said. “As more and more of the population get vaccinated, more and more people who are vaccinated will contract the virus, but they will generally avoid hospitalizations and death, especially of the unvaccinated.”
The Department of Health will continue to operate its evening and Saturday clinics until demand for booster shots and upcoming children’s vaccines subsides, Smith said.
“The boosters are now available to all Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson beneficiaries who are elderly or at higher risk of contracting the virus (chronic illness, public sector work or living conditions),” Smith said. âDuring this week and next, discussions within the FDA and CDC are expected to result in the approval of Pfizer for children aged 5 to 11. This will not be the adult formula, so it will not take a long time for the vaccine to arrive and be made available to the public. “
UNC Health Southeastern on Tuesday reported eight patients positive for the virus isolated at its medical center, all eight of whom are not vaccinated. This represents a drop from 18 hospitalizations linked to the virus on October 19. Of these, two patients are in the intensive care unit and one is on a ventilator; both numbers are new lows since UNC Health Southeastern began publishing the information in late August.
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke reported seven cases of the virus active among its students, three among faculty and staff and four among contractors on Monday evening.
Of these, three student cases and two faculty / staff cases are new cases since October 18. The university reports 103 student cases in total, 36 among faculty and staff and 18 among contractors since the start of the fall semester.
Statewide, NCDHHS reported 15,307 new cases between October 20 and Tuesday, compared to 18,489 between October 13 and 19; this brings the state’s total pandemic to 1,470,495 cases.
There were 313 virus-related deaths reported in North Carolina between October 20 and Tuesday, compared to 342 between October 13 and 19. The death toll from the state’s pandemic is now 17,888.
As of Tuesday, 1,443 virus-related hospitalizations were reported in the state, up from 1,896 on Oct. 19.
As of Tuesday, 5,738,848 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the state, or 59% of the population; 5,354,432 individuals are considered to be fully vaccinated, ie 55%.
The improving numbers are part of a substantial drop in the number of cases in recent weeks. For the first time since mid-July, the state has reported two consecutive days of new daily cases below 1,500. Over the past two weeks, the moving average number of new daily cases has declined by more than 35%. Hospitalizations, which have fallen 37% in the past 14 days, are at their lowest level in nearly three months.
Health officials reported on Monday that K-12 schools, which serve children under 12 who cannot yet be vaccinated, have also seen a decline in cluster-associated cases for five consecutive weeks.
“Key North Carolina indicators show high but declining levels of the spread of COVID-19,” health officials wrote in an NCDHHS report.
The share of COVID-19 tests returning positive over the past week has ranged from 4% to 6%, down substantially from the daily positivity rate of 8% to 10% reported a month ago.
The spread of the most contagious variant along with low vaccination rates in many of North Carolina’s 100 counties had fueled a substantial spread from late July to mid-September.
North Carolina is in the middle of the nation’s pack in its share of residents vaccinated, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The figures show North Carolina with the 16th lowest proportion of residents aged 12 and over who have been fully immunized. Even so, the CDC ranks North Carolina with the 14th lowest death rate per 100,000 population.
The state’s latest COVID surveillance report notes that unvaccinated North Carolinians are more than four times more likely to contract the virus and nearly 20 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated.
“If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, don’t wait,” NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said in a press release last week. âWe are seeing this virus attacking those who are not vaccinated at a much higher rate than those who are vaccinated. “
The state also expects to receive 124,500 doses of Pfizer’s first wave of COVID-19 vaccines for 5 to 11 years after the federal government approves them. They would then be made available to 231 providers across the state, although health officials have noted that the number of vaccine distributions is subject to change and some providers may decline benefits.
According to data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 900,000 North Carolina residents fall into the eligible age group.