Stanly surpasses 100 coronavirus-related deaths as demand increases for vaccines

Published 4:38 pm Wednesday, January 20, 2021

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After roughly 10 months of dealing with the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic, Stanly County this week surpassed 100 people who have died due to COVID-19-related complications. There are 106 people who have died, as of Thursday.

More than 65 percent of the county’s death total have come from people who lived in Albemarle, which as of Wednesday, accounted for 70 deaths, according to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services. New London and Norwood have the second- and third-most deaths with seven and six, respectively. Many of the deaths have come from older citizens, especially those in long-term care facilities.

At least 5,602 people in Stanly County have tested positive for the coronavirus since March, according to the county health department.

The department reported on Thursday 88 new COVID-19 cases, up from 32 the day before. There were also four additional deaths.

At least 38 people were reported hospitalized on Thursday, which is the same number as the day before.

Stanly’s rolling seven-day average positivity rate is at 14.9 percent, down from 16 percent last week, per the state Health and Human Services Department, which is above the state’s current overall average of 10.3 percent.

Albemarle continues to lead the county in both coronavirus cases (2,408) 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): 896 cases and seven deaths;
  • Norwood (28128): 572 cases and six deaths;
  • Locust (28097): 552 cases and one death;
  • Oakboro (28129): 435 cases and four deaths;
  • Stanfield (28163): 380 cases and two deaths;
  • Richfield (28137): 252 cases and one death;
  • Badin (28009): No information for the town.

Increased demand for vaccines 

The health department, with its two drive-through lanes in the Stanly County Commons parking lot, is currently vaccinating more than 200 people a day. Stanly County Health Director David Jenkins told the county commissioners Tuesday that the the goal is to vaccinate around 300 people a day.

Individuals in Phase 1 of the state’s vaccination plan, which include health care workers along with adults 65 and older, are receiving the Moderna vaccine from the department. Jenkins said the department is focused on vaccinating people 65 and older, which comprise around 12,000 people in the county.

Due to significant call volume, the department is adding additional phone lines and augmenting its workforce by adding staff members to man the call center. It’s also pooling resources from other county agencies as needed. To register for vaccination, people can call the department’s new COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 980-323-0205. The hotline is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during normal business days.

To better streamline the process, the plan is for workers to schedule appointments as they are talking to people on the hotlines, which can take some time and requires training. County Manager Andy Lucas said the county is training people to work the call center. He mentioned Stanly Community College has sent staff volunteers to help.

“Our folks are working extremely hard to try and make it better and get these shots into arms as quickly as possible,” Lucas said.

Commissioner Peter Asciutto encouraged patience for residents looking forward to getting vaccinated.

“When you look at the numbers, if we’re getting 1,000 doses a week and we have 65,000 people in our county, do the math on how long that takes.”

The health department has vaccinated 1,658 people as of Thursday. Jenkins said the county is expecting to receive an additional 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine next week. The Moderna vaccine is given in two doses, separated by 28 days. People will not be fully immunized against the virus unless they receive both doses.

Since the vaccine is free, people can receive the first dose at any location, even if it’s in another county, but they should go back to the same location to receive the required second dose.

With the demand for the vaccine surging over the past few weeks, “a lot of it’s us balancing public expectations with vaccine availability and staff resource capability,” Jenkins said.

For people wanting to get tested, OptumServe, which is contracted by the state, is testing people at the Stanly County Senior Center in Albemarle and at Stanly Community College’s Crutchfield Campus in Locust. The Albemarle testing site is open Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 877-562-4850.

Statewide, there have been roughly 8.2 million tests conducted resulting in at least 698,099 cases. A total of at 3,666 people were reported hospitalized Thursday, and 8,339 people have died.

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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