• 81°

For first week, SCS reports COVID cases in almost every school, close to 500 quarantined

Stanly County Schools has released the first COVID-19 data of the new school year showing that for the week of Aug. 22-28, almost 500 students and staff were quarantined from school contact due to exposures with the virus.

The data shows 418 students were quarantined, according to the dashboard, which accounts for about five percent of the overall student population of roughly 8,200. In addition, 67 staff members, including 10 who work in the central office, have also been in quarantine, or about six percent of the total staff population.

This comes as 65 students and 18 staff members have tested positive. Almost every school in the district, with the exception of Millingport Elementary and Stanly County Virtual Education, have at least one positive case over the time frame.

The range of how many students and staff have been away from schools varied quite a bit from the low single digits — only three people were in quarantine at Stanly STEM Early College  — in some schools to more than 60 students and staff at Richfield Elementary, which had nine people test positive.

“It is important to our students, parents, staff, and community that we share statistics of how Stanly County Schools is being affected by the COVID-19 virus,” the dashboard reads. “This information is a vital component in the decision making process for our administration as we respond to the affects of the COVID-19 virus in our school district.”

Hope Miller-Drye, administrative assistant for Stanly County Schools, said the plan is to update the dashboard once a week.

It’s the responsibility of the parent to report any outside-school exposure a child may have to the virus to the school system, said Wendy Growcock, public health specialist with the health department.

Students who are exposed to the virus outside of school are required to quarantine for 10 days as long as they do not develop symptoms, she said, noting it is recommended that students who are exposed get tested five days after the exposure.
People who have tested positive but show no symptoms should isolate for 10 days, Growcock added.

Stanly continues to struggle against the delta variant 

The influx of new cases within the school system — even as masks are required for all students and staff — underscores how prevalent the delta variant is within the community. There are roughly 860 active cases in the county, a 91 percent increase from two weeks ago.

The rise in cases have been especially pronounced among children ages 0-17. In July, for example, there were 51 reported COVID-19 cases among the age group. That number rose to 279 in August and there have been 116 so far in September. Pediatric cases have accounted for about 24 percent of all cases since July 1, when the delta variant was first detected in the county, according to data from the health department.

The county reported 409 cases this week, up from 392 last week, including 92 new cases on Thursday.

“That’s the highest daily count we’ve seen in quite a while unfortunately,” said Stanly County Health Director David Jenkins, as part of a COVID-19 update during the Health and Human Services board meeting Thursday evening.

Health officials reported 39 people were hospitalized as of Thursday, the highest total since early January and a major jump from the 20 that were hospitalized Aug. 20, of which 12 were in the ICU. The number fell to 36 on Friday.

Jenkins received a report from Atrium Health Stanly that the hospital is currently “beyond capacity.” According to federal data from Department of Health and Human Services, only about 38 percent of the 109 hospital beds inside Atrium Health Stanly are available. Of 10 ICU beds, none are currently available.

Atrium Health, CaroMont Health and Novant Health released data this week showing that of the 933 people hospitalized across all their Charlotte-area hospitals, 92 percent were unvaccinated. Of the 126 people on life support, 97 percent were unvaccinated.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 157 people in Stanly have died, including 13 in August. By comparison, Jenkins told members of the Health and Human Services Board that there have been 12 flu deaths in the county since 2016.

Even with a modest uptick in vaccinations over the past week, only 35 percent of residents are fully vaccinated, still one of the lowest rates in the state. By comparison, 50 percent of people across the state are fully vaccinated.

After the county’s percent positivity rate briefly dipped below two percent in June, it’s been steadily on the rise ever since and is now approaching 17 percent.

“We’re very much still in the acceleration phase of this fourth wave of the pandemic,” Jenkins said.

 

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.

email author More by Chris