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Two new Covid deaths reported as weekly total surpasses 160

There have been more than 160 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Stanly this week as local health officials also reported two new deaths from the coronavirus.

The deaths, which were included in the health department’s daily COVID-19 update on Facebook Thursday, are the first since mid-July. There have been 146 COVID-19 deaths in the county since the start of the pandemic last spring.

Twenty-seven new coronavirus cases were reported on Thursday, bringing the weekly total to 161. It hasn’t been since February that Stanly last experienced comparable weekly totals. Cases have increased more than 1,200 percent since the beginning of July, when total weekly cases were still in the teens.

A total of 61 new cases were reported on Monday, the highest single-day total since 69 were reported Feb. 22, back when the pandemic was arguably at its worst in Stanly.

Stanly has surpassed more than 8,300 cases since the pandemic began last spring.

Stanly's COVID-19 positivity rate has continued to increase and is now around 14 percent, which is higher than the state average of 10.4 percent.

The recent surge in cases can be attributed to the highly contagious delta variant, which has been spreading across the country and now accounts for 93 percent of all new infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unlike previous strains of the virus, delta has shown it can infect even fully vaccinated people (known as breakthrough cases), though they tend to have only mild symptoms and almost never require hospitalization.

The health department has reported 42 breakthrough cases since the beginning of July ranging in ages from 15 to 91.

The delta variant also appears to be more contagious among kids 17 and older. Since the beginning of last month, local health officials have reported 74 pediatric cases.

Surges in new cases are happening all across North Carolina. State health officials reported 4,331 new cases Thursday, 918 more than the previous day and the highest single-day total in months. North Carolina also surpassed 1,600 people hospitalized on Wednesday, the highest number in months.

The influx of new cases in Stanly comes as only a third of the roughly 63,000 residents are fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in the state, according to the latest state public health data. Across North Carolina, 47 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.

The desire to get vaccinated in Stanly, as in most places, seems to be correlated with certain age groups. Sixty-nine percent of people 65 and older are fully vaccinated in Stanly compared to only 41 percent of people 18 and older.

Of young people age 12 to 17 eligible to get vaccinated, few in Stanly have taken advantage of the opportunity, according to state data. Only 11 percent of the population have been vaccinated so far, well below the statewide rate of 27 percent.

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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