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73 new COVID-19 positives, hundreds of new vaccinations reported in Rowan

SALISBURY — The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday reported 73 new positives of COVID-19 in Rowan County and hundreds of new vaccinations administered.

The new positives bring the number of local cases since the beginning of the pandemic to 13,935. There have been 1,333 positives in the previous two weeks.

Per capita, Rowan County has seen about the same number of positives in the previous two weeks as Iredell and Davidson counties, but fewer cases per capita have been reported in Davidson, Cabarrus and Stanly counties.

First-dose vaccinations increased by 492 on Wednesday. Second-dose vaccinations given to local residents increased by 229. The state now counts 9,638 people, or 6.78% of Rowan residents, as receiving a first dose and 2,844 people, or 2%, as receiving a second dose.

Both percentage numbers are below the state average, but this week is set to be the busiest yet for local vaccination events.

Events this week

The Rowan County Health Department on Monday conducted a drive-thru with 400 first-dose vaccines and a second-dose event on Wednesday with 900 vaccines. Vaccine clinics planned Thursday and Saturday at West End Plaza will administer a total of 1,950 vaccines.

A clinic is planned Wednesday in the town of East Spencer for people 65 and older who are African American. That event will be at the Northside Community Center, 729 North Long Street. People can sign up by calling 980-892-4500 and mentioning the town of East Spencer event.

People can sign up for any unfilled Health Department appointments or obtain addition information about upcoming clinics by visiting rowancountync.gov/1671/First-Dose-Clinics. The Health Department hotline for COVID-19 is 980-432-1800.

In addition to regular appointments at the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA in Salisbury, Novant Health is planning to focus Saturday on Black local residents who are 65 and older. Rowan Diagnostic Clinic says it has received 300 vaccines to administer to its patients Thursday and Friday. The Salisbury VA also says it will have a vaccination event Saturday, with all three of its sites participating; the W.G. “Bill” Hefner VA Medical Center planning to vaccinate 800 veterans.

Group three

Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday announced the state would move into group three vaccinations on Feb. 24, starting with people working in child care or in pre-K through 12th grade schools. Other frontline essential workers in group three can be vaccinated starting March 10.

Those who can be vaccinated starting March 10 will include people who work in stores selling groceries and medicine, who work for manufacturers making medical supplies or products needed for food and agriculture supply chains, in food and agriculture, in government and community services and in transportation.

“Starting with a smaller number of Group 3 frontline essential workers helps providers streamline vaccine distribution effectively and efficiently,” Cooper said in a news release.

In a statement, the N.C. Association of Educators thanked the governor for the announcement.

“North Carolina public school educators are eager to get back into their classrooms as soon as it is safe to do so, and today’s announcement from Gov. Cooper is an important step forward in making that a possibility,” said association president Tamika Walker Kelly. “By giving all educators, including bus drivers, maintenance workers, nutrition workers, and those who work directly in the classroom vaccination priority, we will be able to resume in-person instruction more quickly and safely.”

It wasn’t immediately clear Wednesday how or if officials would verify people’s place of employment when they arrive at a vaccination site. Cooper and Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said there is no identification requirement related to professions.

Other data

Both in Rowan County and across the state, COVID-19 data has shown an improvement from a spike prompted by holiday gatherings.

The number of tests coming back positive, is nearly half of what it was one month ago. On Wednesday, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said 12.2% of tests returned positive in Rowan County. One month ago, the same number was about 20%.

Hospitalizations also continue to trend down. Rowan’s region, the Triad Healthcare Preparedness Coalition, reported 557 people hospitalized on Wednesday. That compares favorably to Jan. 17, when 1,083 people were hospitalized in the region. The Triad and the Metrolina region, which includes Charlotte, are roughly equal for largest number of people hospitalized in the state.

State data show 15 congregate living outbreaks in the county, which includes eight nursing homes, six residential care facilities and the Rowan County Detention Center. There are also 11 active cases at Piedmont Correctional Institute, the state prison in Salisbury.

Statewide, there were 3,833 new cases added Wednesday, 805,898 total cases, 2,291 people currently hospitalized and 10,181 deaths. The percent of positive tests reported Wednesday was 7.9% across North Carolina.

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