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Local COVID-19 deaths reach 200; Drive-thru vaccinations planned Thursday

SALISBURY — With 28 deaths since the new year began, Rowan County hit 200 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday.

It’s a mark that just six other counties have reached — all of which have larger populations than Rowan.

To date, the average age of the 200 deaths in Rowan County is 78, according to Rowan County Health Department data. Most deaths have occurred in nursing homes or congregate care facilities, but the number of deaths elsewhere has continued to rise, with 98 occurring outside of the facilities. All congregate care facilities with deaths have at least two. The Citadel, a facility on Julian Road, remains the largest single location of COVID-19 deaths.

In Cabarrus County, there have been 164 deaths, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. There have been 118 in Iredell, 98 in Davidson, 92 in Stanly and 14 in Davie.

Rowan County also added 97 new COVID-19 positives on Wednesday, making 10,407 since the start of the pandemic and 1,582 since the start of the new year, according to local data. There are estimated to be 4,337 active cases, but the pace of recoveries has slowed because higher percentages of tests coming back positive has increased the workload for county health staff.

The number of local residents hospitalized has remained 29 for three days.

There have been 1,193 cases in local congregate living facilities. Piedmont Correctional Institute, the state prison in Salisbury, says there have been 299 positive tests there, with 26 of them considered currently active.

The county currently counts 98,610 completed tests, which is a decrease from the start of the week. However, county health officials say some negative tests were removed from the total because they were inadvertently added before the usual, weekly update on Thursday and did not include all negative test results from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Drive-thru vaccination clinic Thursday

There have been 1,991 people in Rowan County vaccinated with one dose and 73 who have completed their vaccine series.

After a large turnout Monday, the Rowan County Health Department exhausted its supply of vaccines. But the Health Department says it has a new supply and will host another drive-thru clinic Thursday starting at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot of West End Plaza. Anyone that falls into phase 1A or 1B can participate, including all individuals 75 years of age or older and any health care workers or long-term care staff.

The West End Plaza is located at 1935 Jake Alexander Boulevard West. The Health Department asks people interested in receiving a vaccine enter West End Plaza from Statesville Boulevard and Admiral Drive — the intersection directly in front of Food Lion. People must enter the parking lot coming eastbound (headed back toward Salisbury) in order to make a right turn into the West End Plaza parking lot. Anyone traveling west (away from Salisbury) will need to make a U-turn.

County and city personnel will be at the entrance to West End Plaza to provide further traffic instructions.

No appointments are necessary. The vaccination clinic will continue until the supply runs out or 3:30 p.m. Depending on the supply and how many people show up, some may be asked to come back another day to be vaccinated.

Before being vaccinated, people will be asked to verify their age, answer a few questions on paper or a tablet and provide insurance cards, if available. The vaccine is free to everyone; however, the Rowan Health Department is filing with insurance for administrative costs. Regardless of insurance, there is no cost to the person vaccinated.

“As we go forward, please know that Rowan County Public Health’s No. 1 priority is to ensure that all Rowan County citizens that want a vaccine can receive it, while also balancing vaccine supply and abiding by the phased approach provided to us by NCDHHS,” the Rowan Health Department said in a news release.

State statistics

North Carolina saw the addition of 5,098 COVID-19 positives on Wednesday, raising the total number of cases recorded in the state to 641,073. There are currently 3,951 people being hospitalized and 7,745 deaths. The percentage of tests returning positive statewide Wednesday was 14.7% — significantly below Rowan’s percentage of more than 20%.

The state counts at least 521,475 people as having recovered from COVID-19. There have been 7.7 million completed tests.

A note posted to the data dashboard maintained by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services says there was an issue that prevented some files from being processed Tuesday, leading to a lower amount of data reported Wednesday afternoon. As a result, data reported Thursday will include cases that should have been entered earlier.

Also notable, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services counts hundreds more positive cases in Rowan County than the local health department — 10,941 from the state and 10,407 from the county. The state, however, counts four fewer deaths than the local health department.

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