ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County has seen a 4% increase in daily positive cases of COVID-19 in the two weeks since Christmas Day compared to the two weeks prior to Christmas Eve on the way to reaching new heights for new cases in a single day.
From Dec. 10 to Dec. 24, 14.1% of the new test results came back positive. From Dec. 25 to Jan. 8, 18.5% of the results have been positive. The county reported 10 new COVID-19-related deaths over that same period, from Dec. 10 to Jan. 8, bringing the total deaths to 54 as of Friday. The highest single day total for new positive cases since the pandemic began came Thursday, Jan. 7, when the Richmond County Health Department reported 95 new cases of the virus (each Monday represents three days of testing, therefore spikes on Mondays are not considered a single-day high). Between Dec. 10 and Dec. 24, the high for a single day was 51 on Thursday, Dec. 10.
Of the patients being treated at across the FirstHealth of the Carolinas system, 26.6% are COVID-19 patients. It’s unclear what percent of the patients being treated at the FirstHealth – Richmond campus at COVID-19 patients.
John Jackson, president of FirstHealth’s southern region and administrator for FirstHealth – Richmond, said the hospital chain’s inventory of PPE and other supplies needed for handling the pandemic is “strong.”
“We have hospital bed capacity, but we are experiencing an increase in COVID related emergencies in the emergency department,” Jackson said in email. “This is true throughout the FirstHealth system. The increased census in the emergency department puts a strain on the hospital and our staff. We urge the community to access the appropriate level of care for their medical needs, and reserve the use of the emergency room for emergency care.”
The Richmond campus has received a total of 800 doses of the Moderna vaccine since Dec. 23 and has administered 320 of those, 300 of which were given to FirstHealth staff and providers, according to Jackson. None have yet received the second dose, which greatly increases immunity, which must be administered 28 days after the first dose.
Jackson said that the company’s vaccination clinics are operating efficiently, the process of registering through the state’s COVID vaccine management system has added extra time.
“We are working through any issues and administering the vaccines as quickly as we can,” Jackson said. “While the documentation takes time, it is a necessary practice.”
Jackson said the reports of side effects of the vaccine have been “minimal” with the most common being “soreness in the arm” where the shot was administered.
“Certainly no significant side effects,” he said.
The Health Department reported the most recent death, the 54th, on Friday. This patient died on Jan. 6 in a local hospital.
The county reached the 50-death benchmark Dec. 30 when a death from earlier in the month was reported. The first COVID-19-related death came on April 10, and there were only 13 by Sept. 11. In the more than three months since, there have been now 41 deaths.
For comparison, Health Director Tommy Jarrell told the Daily Journal that the official count of flu deaths in Richmond County hovers between five and 10 deaths each year.
The Health Department reports deaths as “COVID-19-related” not “COVID-19-only” deaths — meaning that other comorbidities may have been at play, but that the coronavirus was a factor in the person dying, Jarrell explained.
The 54 COVID-19-related deaths in the county have ranged in age from 31 to 95. A further breakdown of the deaths indicate: nine African American females, seven African American males, one “other race” female, one Hispanic female, two Native American males, 19 Caucasian females and 15 Caucasian males. Thirty-nine of the deceased have died in a hospital, 12 have died at another healthcare facility and three have died outside of a hospital or healthcare facility setting. Additionally, age ranges for the deceased are as follows:
• 30-39: 1
• 50-59: 5
• 60-69: 15
• 70-79: 16
• 80 & up: 17
Free Covid-19 testing will be offered at Richmond County Health Department (back parking lot-behind building) located at 127 Caroline Street in Rockingham, North Carolina through January 2021. Anyone seeking testing should enter the Greene Street entrance and follow signs to the back of building to testing center. The times available are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Site will be open on Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
These tests do not require a patient to be experiencing symptoms, to have a doctor’s note, nor to have insurance. The wait time for results is roughly the same as the wait following a test with FirstHealth. A new location for the tests will be announced each Friday for an unknown number of weeks. The sites will rotate through the county.
The Health Department continues to encourage everyone to practice the three W’s: wear mask, wait six feet apart and wash hands frequently.
“Please join us with your thoughts and prayers for this family,” Jarrell said in a press release.
If you have questions about COVID-19 in general or about your own need to be tested, call the Richmond County COVID-19 Hotline at 910-417-4947.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2673 or [email protected] To support the Richmond County Daily Journal, subscribe at https://www.yourdailyjournal.com/subscribe.
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