ALBEMARLE — David Jenkins, director of the Stanly County Health Department, presented the county’s COVID-19 data at the Stanly County Board of Commissioners meeting on Jan. 3, detailing that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cut its quarantine guidance in half, from 10 days post-symptoms down to five.
“The big news is the updated isolation guidance,” Jenkins said, adding that the CDC still urges people to wear masks for another five days after that to avoid infecting others. “If you have symptoms — regardless of vaccination status — we want you to get tested and isolate while you wait for results.”
Jenkins said the CDC’s new recommendations released on Dec. 27 were constructed in an attempt to limit the economic ramifications stemming from the virus: “The idea is to get people back in the workforce and back in schools because schools will be following this guidance as well.”
During the presentation, Chairman Tommy Jordan confirmed that he had experienced COVID-19 with mild symptoms within the last 15 days and didn’t even know he had the virus until his wife encouraged him to take a rapid test.
“I just did the math here, and I’m good on the CDC guidelines because she made me quarantine for nine days total. When we get home, we’re going to talk about that because I spent nine days in the garage,” Jordan said. “I just want folks to know I probably had the Omicron variant and I was very blessed that it was very mild. But because it can be so mild, it can easily spread.”
Jenkins’ presentation included the CDC’s current estimate that Omicron is two to three times as contagious as the Delta variant, making it four to six times as contagious as the original COVID-19 virus. The good news is that the evidence suggests that the new variant produces less severe illness than earlier waves.
As of Jan. 3, the county health department is reporting a 12.1% positivity rate with 20 current hospitalizations and 274 new cases; there have been 13,341 reported cases and 224 deaths in total based on figures provided by the state DHHS. In addition, there have been 708 breakthrough cases and nine breakthrough deaths in Stanly County.
The county vaccination rate is at 45% for the first dose and 42% for the second dose while the state averages are at 63% and 59%, respectively. In a recent development, due to U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, the Stanly Health Department is now offering booster shots to children who are at least 12 years old.
The Stanly County Board of Commissioners will meet again at its next regularly scheduled meeting on Jan. 18 at 6 p.m., where it will receive an updated public data presentation from the health department.