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COVID cases, hospitalizations continue to decline

Stanly County’s COVID metrics continue to improve as overall cases last week fell to their lowest in almost two months. Daily cases have also declined this week, suggesting that the worst of the current wave of infections, which began in July with the arrival of the delta variant, may have past.

The health department reported 219 new cases for last week, a 37 percent increase from the previous week’s total of 345, and the fewest since Aug. 6, when 206 cases were reported. It represented quite the turnaround after the county reported 474 cases for the week of Sept. 17, the highest total during the current wave.


Through Thursday, there have been 194 cases, or an average of about 32 a day. That's on par with last week's average of about 31 new cases each day.

The state's Department of Health and Human Services reported 4,078 new cases Friday, bringing the daily average over the last week to under 3,600. A week ago, close to 5,000 were reported, and about a month ago, on Sept. 11, more than 11,000 cases were reported.

There have been four reported deaths due to COVID so far in October, bringing the overall total since the pandemic began to 181. Twenty deaths were reported in September.

Hospitalizations and the county's positive rate have also decreased over the past several weeks. Twenty-two people were hospitalized as of Thursday, the fewest reported during a single day since 20 were recorded on Aug. 20 and much lower than this time last month, when the county was averaging more than 30 people in the hospital.

Since Stanly's positivity rate reached almost 17 percent in early September, the highest it's been during the current wave of the delta variant, it's been on the decline and is currently at 9.5 percent as of Thursday.

"We are relieved to see the delta variant slowing down and our positivity rates decrease," said Stanly County Health Director David Jenkins.

With Pfizer booster shots now available to certain members of the public and with the FDA likely to grant Pfizer emergency use authorization of its coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 in the coming weeks, Jenkins encourages people to continue to get the shots.

As of Thursday, 39 people have been fully vaccinated and 42 percent of the population has received at least one dose, according to state health data. By comparison, 54 percent of North Carolinians are fully vaccinated.

"Public health will continue to provide vaccines especially as we move into the holiday and colder months when people spend more time indoors together,” Jenkins said.

Even if people have gained natural immunity through contracting the disease, Jenkins still encourages people to get vaccinated.

"CDC data indicates that COVID-19 vaccines offer better protection than natural immunity alone and that vaccines, even after prior infection, help prevent reinfections," he said.

"COVID-19 vaccines remain safe and effective," he continued. "They prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death. Fully or partially vaccinated people are more likely to have a milder and shorter illness compared to those who are unvaccinated."

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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