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Stanly has seen an 80 percent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in less than a week

As Stanly County continues to see a surge in new COVID-19 cases over the past two months, the number of hospitalizations has risen quite sharply in the last week.

Through Wednesday, 36 residents have been hospitalized as a result of the coronavirus, according to data from the health department, an 80 percent increase since last Friday, when only 20 people were in the hospital.

Wednesday’s total represents a single-day high not seen since the county was in the midst of its worst outbreak back in mid-January, when daily hospitalizations routinely exceeded 30 and approached 40.

The daily tally of those hospitalized is not confined to just patients at Atrium Health Stanly; Stanly County residents at any local hospital including Atrium Health Cabarrus and CMC Main in Charlotte are also included in the total.

With this new surge, prompted by the highly transmissible delta variant, hospitalizations have skyrocketed over the past few weeks. At the end of July, for example, there were days where less than 10 people required hospitalization, according to the health department.

With only 34 percent of the county population fully vaccinated, according to state health data, there's reason to believe the hospitalizations will continue to increase as long as such a large portion of the community remains unvaccinated and vulnerable to possible infection, health officials said.

"We're concerned but at the same time we knew we were going to get to this point unfortunately," said Stanly County Health Director David Jenkins, noting that North Carolina's metrics, including rising hospitalizations, are beginning to resemble those in harder-hit states such as Florida, Louisiana and Texas. "With our low vaccination rates, there's no way around it. It's just something that we're going to have to buckle up as a county and endure together."

Jenkins encourages people to get vaccinated, continue to wear masks and social distance in public when around others.

Atrium Health Stanly has about 39 percent of its total inpatient beds available, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. More specifically, nine out of the 10 ICU beds are occupied.

Across all Atrium hospitals, as of Tuesday, of the 153 total patients on ventilators, 94 percent were unvaccinated. Only nine vaccinated patients required ventilators.

Increases in hospitalizations are not just confined to Stanly County, as hospitals across the state are also experiencing problems. There were 3,503 people hospitalized across North Carolina on Tuesday, the highest total in months.

The health department has reported more than 1,160 new cases since the beginning of July, when delta first emerged, including more than 300 cases last week. About 19 percent of the total have been pediatric cases involving children 17 and younger.

Oonly about 13 percent of children ages 12 to 17 have been fully vaccinated in Stanly County, according to state health data.

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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