Health Department tries to move to endemic stage as Stanly sees highest COVID total since February

Published 11:25 am Friday, May 27, 2022

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While Stanly County has been experiencing a slight uptick in new Covid cases in recent weeks, health officials say it likely won’t be nearly as devastating as previous surges since most people have achieved some degree of immunity against the coronavirus from vaccines, boosters and previous infections.

“We’re trying to move on from pandemic to it being endemic, knowing that we’re going to have highs and lows in our numbers and it will be just one part of what we’ll be dealing with from this point forward,” said Stanly County Health Department Director David Jenkins.

The health department reported 124 new cases last week, up from 44 the week prior and the highest total since mid-February, though the county is still classified as having low community spread — it’s labeled green by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention — meaning there’s a low risk of causing a strain on the hospital system. Statewide, 90 counties are in the green with low community spread; the other 10 are color-coded orange, signifying medium community spread.

Though cases have been increasing, they are still nowhere close to where they were at the beginning of the year. Stanly averaged more than 1,220 new cases for much of January, before the numbers began declining in February.

The number of people dying due to Covid have also dropped in recent months. After recording at least 45 deaths through the first two months of the year, during the height of the Omicron surge, there have been about 10 deaths since the beginning of March.

People are also still getting vaccinated, Jenkins said, noting that close to 300 people have received a shot so far this month. To date, almost 30,000 people, or roughly 47 percent of the population, has received at least one shot of the vaccine and 24 percent of people have received at least one booster.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently expanded emergency authorization allowing the use of the Pfizer booster dose for children ages 5 to 11. The CDC also recommends children in this age group receive a booster dose. Only about 10 percent of the age group in Stanly County has received at least one shot.

Aside from getting vaccinated, simple strategies such as social distancing when in large crowds and regular hand washing are still effective ways at reducing the chances of getting sick.

At this point, Jenkins said it’s still too early to tell whether Covid will eventually become seasonal, like the flu, or if it will continue to infect people throughout the year, as it continues to evolve into other variants or subvariants.

“Are we ever going to see a true Covid season or is it just going to come in waves as we have new subvariants? We just don’t know, we can’t answer that,” he said. “All we can do is protect ourselves with the science and the available resources that are out there to combat this,” 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.

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