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State data show majority of Rowan County residents vaccinated against COVID-19

SALISBURY — About nine months after the first locals received their shots, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services data on Monday showed a majority of Rowan County residents vaccinated for COVID-19.

The state agency’s data portal on Monday showed 51% of all Rowan County residents (71,944 people) have received at least one dose of a vaccine. Among neighboring counties, it’s better than all but Davie. Rowan’s percentage remains below the 57% of North Carolina residents who are vaccinated.

The population percentages aren’t an exact science because the NCDHHS data portal relies on 2019 bridged-race population estimates by the U.S. Census. Those 2019 estimates showed Rowan County with a population of 142,088, but the 2020 Census showed the county with a population of 146,875.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data say 42.3% of Rowan County’s eligible population is vaccinated with at least once dose, but the federal agency’s total number of people vaccinated in the county is about 10,000 lower than NCDHHS. It’s not clear why the discrepancy exists.

About 47% of Rowan County residents are fully vaccinated, according to state numbers. Federal data say 36.3% of residents are fully vaccinated.

Either way, Rowan County Health Director Alyssa Harris said she’s proud of locals for being vaccinated to protect themselves and the community.

“I am also proud of the many, many agencies and team members that continue to work together to get more citizens of all ages vaccinated,” Harris said. “Vaccines are safe and effective and we are seeing the results in real time. Age groups with low vaccination rates account for a larger proportion of new cases. Vaccination is truly our way out of the pandemic where people build immunity without having to get sick.”

While state health officials cleared COVID-19 vaccines for all adults in April, the first Rowan Countians were vaccinated in December. When Rowan Medical Center vaccinated its first staff members against the coronavirus on Dec. 22, there were just 67 other local residents vaccinated.

COVID-19 deaths among Rowan County residents continue to come several at a time, with five reported Monday. Three of the five died on Wednesday, according to NCDHHS data.

Rowan County has seen 397 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic, which places it seventh among North Carolina’s 100 counties for most deaths.

Buncombe County is eighth, with 391 deaths. Cumberland County is sixth, with 419 deaths.

New COVID-19 cases are still decreasing across North Carolina. While there were 2,665 new COVID-19 cases reported Monday, there were 4,569 reported one month ago. In Rowan County, there have been 1,134 new positives in the previous two weeks, which includes 104 reported Monday.

Hospitalizations follow the same trend. NCDHHS reported 728 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Rowan County’s region on Monday, which is down from 885 at the start of the month.

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