Stanly County recorded second-highest number of Covid deaths in January
Published 5:17 pm Thursday, February 10, 2022
New coronavirus cases have started to fall across Stanly County, signaling that the omicron-fueled spike that has infected thousands of residents, packed hospitals and shattered records has finally begun to relent.
The county tallied 543 new cases last week, a 60 percent decrease from the week prior and the lowest total since the end of December. New coronavirus hospital admissions have leveled off after spiking to close to 50 late last month and the percent positivity has plummeted to 21 percent after reaching close to 40 percent in January.
But in a county with more than half of its population unvaccinated, deaths are still mounting. Twenty-nine people died from the virus last month, according to data from the Stanly County Health Department, the second-highest total in the pandemic after August 2020, when 32 people died. January’s total accounts for 11 percent of all deaths (256) since the pandemic began two years ago. Through Thursday, five people have died in February.
“I just look at it as a numbers game, being that the omicron variant is so contagious and you have so many more people that have been infected with this virus,” said Stanly County Health Director David Jenkins, “and obviously with more people being infected, it leads to more hospitalizations and therefore oftentimes more deaths, especially in the unvaccinated.”
Of the 256 people who have lost their lives to COVID-19, 65 percent (166) have died since January 2021, when vaccines were first made widely available to the public and almost all have been unvaccinated. Data shows that only six percent of those deaths (15) have come from fully vaccinated individuals.
To illustrate the importance of vaccinations, only 119 people have died from the virus in Orange County, which has a population close to 150,000, of which 75 percent are fully vaccinated, according to state health data, the highest percentage in the state.
For the most part, deaths due to the virus have been preventable so long as people got vaccinated, Jenkins said, yet "we still have individuals speaking out that it causes more harm than good getting the vaccine."
"Obviously nothing's 100 percent, there's always risk, but for the most part, many lives have been saved by this vaccine," he added.
As with cases and hospitalizations, Jenkins is hopeful deaths should soon start to decline, though they will still linger, especially with people who may be immunocompromised or have spent a long time in the hospital.