Seasonal Covid-19 cases on the uptick in Stanly County

In the thick of winter and with the holidays now over, Stanly County is seeing an uptick in cases of COVID-19.

Since the beginning of December, there have been 683 positive cases and three reported deaths, according to Stanly County Health Director David Jenkins. Hospitalizations have also increased from a daily average of about two to three people being admitted to now about 15 people.

“Both our community levels and our community transmission levels are high,” he said. “All the indications are there still a high number of infections and you’re going to have some hospitalizations due to that.”

Stanly is classified red for high COVID-19 spread on the latest U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention map. About half of the counties in the state are also red.

There were 20,727 total Covid cases across North Carolina during the week of Jan. 7, a 78% increase from the week of Dec. 3, when there were 11,677 total cases, according to state health data.

The new XBB.1.5 subvariant, which is still part of the omicron family and is nicknamed the “Kraken,” has accounted for at least 43% of sequenced cases from the last week.

“It’s being reported to us from the state that XBB.1.5 is the one we’re beginning to see more of,” Jenkins said, adding that it appears to be more contagious than previous omicron variants. As a result, there is a good chance that people who have not yet tested positive for Covid might do so in the near future, especially if exposed to the new variant.

While Covid cases have been increasing, flu and RSV cases are on the decline, though there have been five flu deaths this season, Jenkins said.

“Covid is mainly what we are concerned with at this time,” he said.

The health department is still offering vaccination and booster shots to the public each week along with no-cost Covid tests. It offers Moderna primary and booster shots to the public 9-11:10 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. Tuesday while Pfizer primary and booster shots are available 9-11:10 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. Wednesday. For children, Modern and Pfizer shots are available 1-4 p.m. Monday.

While only 47% of Stanly County residents have been vaccinated with at least one dose, according to state health data, people still come to the department each week to receive the initial protection, said Wendy Growcock, public health education specialist with the health department.

“People will get a recommendation from their physician or they figure that now is the time, maybe something has changed in their life or they had a family member that had a really hard time dealing with Covid,” Growcock said.