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Stanly surpassed 470 new COVID-19 cases last week

Stanly County reported 474 new COVID-19 cases last week, the highest total during the current wave of infections which began at the beginning of July with the delta variant, according to data from the health department.

The caseload represented a roughly 30 percent increase from previous week’s total of 367. Aside from the week of Sept. 10, which saw a 10 percent reduction in new cases compared to the week before, new cases have consistently been increasing each week since July.

In many interviews over the past few weeks, Stanly County Health Director David Jenkins has reiterated that the county is still in the acceleration phase and likely hasn’t yet approached its peak.

Helping to drive the current wave has been the rise in cases among children 0-17. While this population was certainly impacted in the past, they have been especially vulnerable to the highly infectious delta variant over the last few months.

Through the first half of September, there have been 373 confirmed pediatric cases, according to the health department, more than the totals in July (51) and August (279) combined. These cases have accounted for more than 25 percent of all reported cases in the county since July.

Across the country, pediatric cases accounted for 29 percent — 243,373 — of all reported cases for the week of Sept. 9, according to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics, though an incredibly small percentage (less than 4 percent) are requiring hospitalization and even fewer (less than 1 percent) are dying.

Only 18 percent of eligible children 12 to 17 have been fully vaccinated in Stanly, according to state health data, lower than almost every neighboring county. Statewide, 37 percent of children are fully vaccinated.

The uptick in pediatric cases helps to account for the 1,500 Stanly County Schools students quarantined and 143 who tested positive for the week of Sept. 5-11, according to data from the district's COVID-19 dashboard.

A total of 23,069 residents, or 37 percent of the population, have been fully vaccinated as of Monday, while 25,420, or 40 percent, have received at least one dose, according to state health data.

Even as cases continue to rise, the good news is that hospitalizations appear to have declined for the moment. Twenty-three people were in the hospital due to COVID last Friday, a 34 percent decrease from the 35 people hospitalized the week before. It's the lowest total since Aug. 20, when 20 people were in the hospital.

Six additional deaths were reported for the week, bringing the cumulative total to 168. Since the beginning of the current wave in July, 25 people have died, including 11 so far in September.

Atrium Health shared a  social media post about coronavirus-related deaths across its facilities last week saying that "in August alone, COVID deaths were higher than the previous 4 months combined." The post noted that September deaths are on pace to be even higher.

Stanly has reported more than 10,000 total cases since the beginning of the pandemic last spring.

The county's positivity rate increased slightly to 14.9 percent from 14.5 percent the week prior. While still much higher than the 5 percent target recommended by health officials, the county's rate has declined recently. At the beginning of the month, for example, the rate was 16.6 percent.

Statewide, there have been almost 17 million tests conducted resulting in more than 1.3 million cases. More than 3,500 people are hospitalized and 15,615 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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