County’s COVID-19 cases continue climb; next phase of vaccinations to begin
By Natalie Anderson
SALISBURY — County officials reported nearly 300 additional cases of COVID-19 Sunday and Monday as they prepared to enter a new phase of vaccinations.
An additional 158 cases were reported on Sunday and 138 cases on Monday, totaling 9,626 cases since March. Of those, 39% are counted as currently positive, while 5,682 have recovered. Deaths remain at 173, with all but 78 among congregate care facilities.
For the fourth consecutive day, a total of 29 Rowan Countians were being hospitalized for COVID-19.
Rowan County currently ranks 18th in the state for most reported cases and sixth for most reported deaths.
This week, Rowan County Public Health officials continue to vaccinate frontline health care workers in phase 1a, which includes those who care for COVID-19 patients, those who will assist with the vaccination rollout and long-term care residents and staff.
Health care workers at high risk for exposure to COVID-19 are defined as those caring for patients with COVID-19; those working directly in areas where patients with COVID-19 are cared for, including staff responsible for cleaning, providing food service and maintenance in those areas; those performing procedures on patients with COVID-19 that put them at risk; and those handling people who have died from COVID-19. Such health care workers include behavioral health providers; community health workers; dental hygienists; dentists; EMT/paramedics; environmental services staff; health care trainees such as medical students, pharmacy students and nursing students; home health workers; morticians and funeral home staff; nurses and nursing assistants; personal care aides; pharmacists; physicians; public health and emergency preparedness workers; and respiratory techs.
Beginning Monday, the county will begin its mass vaccinations as it enters into phase 1b. Vaccinations will be available for group one of phase 1b, which includes those aged 75 and older, regardless of health status or living situation, as well as any remaining phase 1a-eligible individuals. Mass vaccination will take place via drive-thru Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the West End Plaza, located at 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd. West in Salisbury.
Upon arriving, locals will be asked to verify their age, answer a few questions either on paper or on a tablet and provide insurance cards if they have them. The vaccine is free to everyone, but public health workers are filing insurance for administrative costs. If someone does not have a form of insurance, they will still receive the vaccine at no cost.
Phase 1b includes two other groups, but dates have not yet been set to vaccinate those individuals in Rowan County. Group two of phase 1b includes any patient-facing direct health care workers not vaccinated in Phase 1a and essential frontline workers over the age of 50. Group three of phase 1b includes all other patient-facing direct health care workers not vaccinated in Phase 1a and frontline essential workers of any age. There is no requirement to have certain qualifying chronic conditions for either group.
Essential frontline workers are defined by the CDC as workers who are in sectors essential to the functioning of society and who are substantially higher risk for exposure to COVID-19, which can include first responders, education workers, manufacturing workers, corrections workers, public transit workers, grocery store workers, food and agriculture workers and U.S. postal workers.
State health officials on Monday reported 5,187 new cases across the state, totaling 570,111 cases from 7.12 million tests conducted. The current daily rate of tests returning positive is 8%. A total of 6,941 North Carolinians have died because of the virus.
State health officials presume 85% of those positive cases, or 487,090, have recovered.
A total of 3,635 North Carolinians are being hospitalized, with the plurality, or 974, of those patients belonging to the Triad Healthcare Preparedness Coalition where Rowan County sits. Currently, that region is using the most ICU beds at 483 as well as the most inpatient hospital beds at 3,713.
Additionally, state data show that as of Saturday, a disproportionate number of Hispanic North Carolinians and American Indian/Alaskan Native North Carolinians have tested positive for COVID-19, comprising 24% and 2% of all cases, respectively. Black North Carolinians comprise 21% of all cases, while Asian/Pacific Islander residents comprise 2% and white residents make up 62% of all cases.
More than 60% of all cases are among those aged 25 and older.
The CDC on Monday reported an additional 212,117 cases and 1,418 new deaths, which totals 20.56 million cases and 350,664 deaths across the U.S. since January. There have been an average of 64.7 daily cases per 100,000 residents over the last seven days, with North Carolina ranking 19th after reporting an average of 65.5 cases per 100,000 residents over the last seven days.
Health official continue to urge North Carolinians to get tested following any holiday travels. Locals can be tested at the following locations this week:
• Carolina COVID Testing, located at 711 E. Innes Street, Salisbury
Saturday — Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Testing is free and no appointment is needed. Call 704-413-3080 for more information.
• Novant Health Rowan, located at 1904 W Jake Alexander Boulevard, Salisbury
Testing criteria may apply. Call 704-210-7845 for an appointment.
• FastMed Clinic, located at 1361 Klumac Road, Salisbury
Insurance is billed. For non-insured individuals, the cost is $199 for both COVID-19 and antibody testing. No appointment needed.
• CVS, located at 1924 Statesville Blvd., Salisbury
Appointment is required online at https://www.cvs.com/minuteclinic/covid-assessment
• W. G. Hefner VA Medical Center, located at 1601 Brenner Ave., Salisbury
Only veterans are tested at this location. Testing criteria may apply.
• Cabarrus-Rowan Community Health Center Mobile Unit, Rowan County Health Department, located at 1811 E Innes Street, Salisbury
Friday from 9 a.m. – noon