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Stanly surpasses 5,000 cumulative coronavirus cases

Stanly County achieved a grim milestone this week: it surpassed 5,000 cumulative coronavirus cases since March.

An additional 65 new cases were reported on Thursday, according to the health department, bringing the county’s total to 5,226.

Though Stanly still easily lags behind its larger urban neighbors when it comes to total cases — Mecklenburg leads the state with more than 75,000 while Cabarrus, Union and Rowan each have more than 10,000 — it far outpaces many of the smaller counties like Anson (1,738), Montgomery (2,398) and Richmond (3,206).

While the county did experience a decrease in hospitalizations this week — there are 33 people hospitalized compared to 39 last Friday, deaths have been on the rise. There have been five new deaths reported this week, bringing the cumulative total to 98.

The county has seen a significant increase in new cases over the past two months. In December and so far this month, Stanly has exceeded at least 70 new daily cases at least six times, hitting its highest one-day total on Dec. 30, when 97 cases were reported, according to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services. Before last month, the highest one-day total occurred Aug. 13 with 68 cases.

The 30-day average of new cases per day is currently 53.

Stanly’s rolling seven-day average positivity rate is at 16.3 percent, per the state Health and Human Services Department, above the state’s current overall average of 11.2 percent.

Of the total number of cases, roughly 14 percent (708) have come from long-term care or correctional facilities. DHHS lists five facilities with ongoing outbreaks: Stanly Manor, Forrest Oaks, Bethany Woods, Trinity Place and Premier Services of the Carolinas. Albemarle Correctional Institution, which has had 433 cases, has one active case.

The health department has already begun vaccinating people that are part of Phase 1b, which includes teachers, first responders, U.S. postal workers and people who work in manufacturing and public transit. Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Thursday that the state will expand its coronavirus vaccine protocols to offer shots to people ages 65 and up as part of Phase 1b. Previously, only adults 75 and up were allowed to receive the vaccine.

As of Thursday, the health department has vaccinated 624 people.

To register for vaccination, people can call the department’s new COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 980-323-0205. The hotline is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during normal business days. Individuals will be asked to provide relevant information such as name, date of birth, phone number and employer. They will not be asked about their Social Security number or any financial information.

Stanly County Health Director David Jenkins told commissioner Peter Asciutto in a Facebook Live video Friday that the department is vaccinating about 200 a people a day with the goal of trying to eventually increase it to 300 people. Jenkins recommended that even when people get fully vaccinated to continue wearing masks and social distancing while in public.

Due to significant call volume, the county is planning to add more phone lines and four more staff to the call center by no later than Tuesday morning.

The department is no longer testing people. OptumServe, which is contracted by the state, will soon open a drive-in testing site at the Stanly County Senior Center in Albemarle beginning next Tuesday to go along with its site at Stanly Community College’s Crutchfield Campus in Locust. The Albemarle testing site will be open Monday through Saturday

Other groups will be vaccinated in the following phases (in the coming weeks and months) determined by state health guidelines:

• Phase 2: Adults at high risk for exposure and at increased risk of severe illness;

• Phase 3: Students; and

• Phase 4: Everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination.

Albemarle continues to lead the county in both coronavirus cases (2,264) and deaths (70). Below is a breakdown of the number of cases and deaths by the other municipalities according to DHHS data:

  • New London (28127): 862 cases and seven deaths;
  • Norwood (28128): 535 cases and six deaths;
  • Locust (28097): 518 cases and one death;
  • Oakboro (28129): 410 cases and four deaths;
  • Stanfield (28163): 348 cases and two deaths;
  • Richfield (28137): 237 cases and one death;
  • Badin (28009): No information for the town.

Statewide, there have been roughly 7.8 million tests conducted resulting in 659,840 cases. A total of 3,916 people are hospitalized, while 7,933 people have died.

The demographics continue to stay relatively constant in Stanly, with people ages 25 to 49 being the group most likely to contract the virus (38 percent of all cases) followed by those ages 50 to 64 (24 percent). Children younger than 17 and those ages 18-24 account for nine percent and 10 percent of the cases, respectively.

White people account for the overwhelming majority of cases at 71 percent, followed by Black people with 11 percent of cases.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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