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More than 130 new Covid cases reported since Monday

Not even halfway through the five-day work week and Stanly County has already surpassed the COVID-19 case totals from last week. Such is the nature of a virus that is spreading faster and faster with each successive week as vaccinations in the county continue to stall.

Through Wednesday, the county has reported 134 cases, with 12 people hospitalized, according to data from the health department. That’s 10 more cases than were reported last week. (The department only reports data Monday through Friday)

Cases are rapidly increasing in Stanly County due to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, which now accounts for roughly 93 percent of all new infections, according to the CDC. The surge in cases comes as only 33 percent of Stanly residents are fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in the state. Even smaller neighboring counties like Anson and Montgomery have slightly higher vaccination percentages.

In Stanly, as in much of the state, vaccination rates have declined for younger populations. Almost 70 percent of people 65 and older in Stanly are fully vaccinated, but the rate drops precipitously to 41 percent for all residents 18 and older.

The county’s positivity rate has also ballooned over the past month and is now at almost 14 percent, well above the target rate of being less than five percent. At the end of June, the county’s rate was only around two percent.

There have been almost 8,300 cumulative cases since the pandemic first began last spring.

The exponential growth of the virus over the past month has contributed to a few guidelines enacted this week to help curb the spread. Albemarle City Manager Michael Ferris announced a mask mandate for all staff and visitors while inside city facilities. The school board voted to require masks for students and staff to begin the school year.

Major hospital systems, including Atrium Health and Novant, are also requiring their employees to get vaccinated.

And it’s not just Stanly — cases are increasing at an alarming rate all across the state. North Carolina reported 3,413 new cases Wednesday, the highest single-day total the state has reported since February.

So far there has only been one additional death reported in Stanly since the recent uptick in new cases, bringing the cumulative total to 144, but — since deaths are considered to be a lagging indicator — that statistic may increase as more people get infected and sick.
To help encourage people to get vaccinated, several vaccine providers across the state, including the Stanly County Health Department, will now offer $100 for unvaccinated people to get the shot, up from $25, Gov. Roy Cooper recently announced.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows major transmission of the virus throughout North Carolina. All but a small handful of the state’s 100 counties  are labeled red, including Stanly, indicating high transmission. In these areas, the CDC is recommending people wear masks in indoor public settings, even if they’re already vaccinated.

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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