Rowan County COVID-19 deaths nearing 300 this year

Published 2:54 pm Wednesday, December 15, 2021

SALISBURY — COVID-19 deaths in Rowan County are approaching 300 this year.

Including four fatalities due to the coronavirus this month, there have been 296 COVID-19 deaths among Rowan County residents since the start of 2021, according to data from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. That’s a majority of the 485 COVID-19 deaths since the start of pandemic.

While deaths primarily occurred among people 75 and older in 2020, ages of the COVID-19 dead have been more diverse after vaccines became widely available in 2021. Local residents in the top age group overwhelmingly took the vaccine — 74% — and health officials say being vaccinated remains an effective way to protect against hospitalization and death as new variants emerge.

The local vaccination rate (at least one dose) is lower among younger age groups:

• 70% for ages 65 to 74

• 55% for ages 50 to 64

• 41% for ages 25 to 49

• 36% for ages 18 to 24

• 25% for ages 12 to 17

• 6% for ages 5 to 11

More Rowan County men than women have died this year from COVID-19. There’s also a significant gap between male and female vaccinations in Rowan County — 46% for women and 39% for men.

Rowan County has more COVID-19 deaths than any of its neighbors. Only five counties in the state, all with a higher population, have more COVID-19 fatalities than Rowan.

COVID-19 cases in Rowan County are occurring more quickly and at higher totals in December than November. While there were three days with more than 50 new cases in November, there have been five in December.

Hospitalizations are also on the rise, with 468 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Rowan County’s region on Wednesday as compared to 250 one month earlier, according to state data. Numbers from the first week of December, the latest available, show 188 of 269 inpatient beds and 21 of 22 intensive care beds occupied at Rowan Medical Center in Salisbury.

There are four active COVID-19 outbreaks at congregate living facilities in Rowan County, including Trinity Oaks, the Laurels of Salisbury, Accordius Health and the Citadel. The lone COVID-19 cluster at a local school is at Southeast Middle, according to state data.