Stanly health director: COVID cases down, vaccinations up

Still urges continued caution despite good news

Photo courtesy of StanlyTV

ALBEMARLE — David Jenkins, director of the Stanly County Health Department, presented the county’s latest COVID-19 data at the Stanly County Board of Commissioners meeting on Nov. 1.

Jenkins’ presentation showed that the percent positivity rate for laboratory tests in the county had dropped to 5.6% during the preceding week — the lowest figure in that category since the last week of July.

“Close to 5% is considered low transmission. Even with that, our level of transmission throughout all of North Carolina is still high,” Jenkins said. “As long as the case rate is still up there, the recommendation from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is to wear a mask if you’re indoors and can’t socially distance or if you’re in an area that is high traffic.”

As of the latest press release on Nov. 8, the county health department is now reporting a 6.1% positivity rate with 14 current hospitalizations and 34 new cases; there have been 11,797 reported cases and 197 deaths in total based on figures provided by the state DHHS.

Along with revised transmission data, the department also announced that the county’s COVID-19 full vaccination rate has gone up nearly 10% since the beginning of August.

“Good job Stanly County! We are up to 41% of our residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Let’s keep going!” the department posted on its social media page.

At the board meeting, Jenkins addressed the “diversity” in vaccination numbers throughout the state, acknowledging that some counties are sitting at over 60% while others are still below 40%. The percentage of Stanly residents who have received only the first dose of a vaccination is at 43%.

In a recent development, the health department is now accepting Pfizer vaccine appointments for children in the 5 to 11 age range and will hold a limited inventory during the first wave of the vaccine’s distribution. This variation of the Pfizer shot contains a smaller dose than the shot designated for the 12 and older age range.

Following the health director’s slideshow, Commissioner Peter Ascuitto commented on the 54 deaths that have happened in Stanly County since the beginning of July.

“After we’ve known about this virus for over a year, one fourth of the deaths have happened in the last four months which is sad and a shame,” Ascuitto said. “I just wish we could have done more to help stop the spread.”

Within Stanly County, there was only one COVID-19 related death in July but those figures increased in August (13), September (20) and October (20).

“This is a serious thing and winter is coming. I hope the best for Stanly County because, at this point, we only have 40% of the people who have been fully vaccinated,” Ascuitto continued. “The flu is coming and there’s going to be a lot of people who won’t be able to tell the difference between it and COVID.”

Initially, the Centers for Disease and Control recommended waiting 14 days between receiving COVID-19 shots and other immunizations but the national agency has since indicated there is no reported health risk for combining them into a single appointment.

The Stanly County Board of Commissioners will meet again at its next regularly-scheduled meeting on Nov. 15 at 6 p.m.