Wednesday, 08 September 2021 19:04

Richmond County Health Department reports another COVID death, 70 new cases

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Richmond County Health Department reports another COVID death, 70 new cases RO file photo

ROCKINGHAM — As case numbers continue to climb, another death has been attributed to COVID-19.

The Richmond County Health Department late Wednesday afternoon announced the 131st local COVID-related death, making the fifth in September.

According to the Health Department, the updated race and gender breakdown is as follows: 21 African American females, 22 African American males, three “other race” females, one “other race” male, two Hispanic females, one Hispanic male, two American Indian males, 41 Caucasian females and 38 Caucasian males.

All patients have been between the ages of 31 and 95: 34 have been 80 or older; 33 have been in their 70s; 37 in their 60s; 17 in their 50s; eight in their 40s and two in their 30s.

Of the county’s deaths, 101 have been at a hospital, 23 have passed away in another healthcare facility and seven have died outside of a health setting.

Based on previous reports, the most recent death was that of a Caucasian man in his 40s.

North Carolina has seen 14,894 COVID-related deaths — 63 since the previous day — according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The Health Department reported early Wednesday that 70 more Richmond County residents have tested positive for the coronavirus — the highest one-day total since 88 were reported on Feb. 2.

As of 6 p.m., the Richmond County Schools COVID Tracker showed 12 new cases for the day, including 11 students and one staff member in Central Services:

  • One each at Monroe Avenue, Washington Street and West Rockingham Elementary, Cordova Middle and Richmond Early College High School; and
  • Two each at East Rockingham Elementary, Ninth Grade Academy and Richmond Senior High School.

In less than three weeks, 109 students, 11 school staff members and three Central Services employees have tested positive.

Hamlet Middle and Richmond Senior each have had 21 students to test positive and the REaCH has had 10. All other schools have had fewer than 10.

Dr. Wendy Jordan, director of Student Services, said she updates the tracker throughout the day as new cases come in.

The Richmond County Board of Education voted Tuesday to extend the mandatory masking policy for students, staff and visitors for another month.

As of Aug. 24, 87 school districts in the state require face coverings, Jordan told the board.

Interim Health Director Cheryl Speight said that while there is no statewide mask mandate, as Gov. Roy Cooper kept in place for several months last year, it is highly recommended in counties with high transmission rates. She added that all 100 counties, including Richmond, are considered to have high transmission.

According to Speight, 99% of the recent cases in the state involve the delta variant.

NCDHHS reported earlier Wednesday that school sports teams accounted for 45% of all clusters in North Carolina middle and high schools since July.

RCS Public Information Officer Jasmine Hager said there have been no local sports-related clusters.

NCDHHS reported 4,752 new cases statewide on Wednesday.

Statewide COVID-related hospitalizations remain high (3,790 as of Sept. 7), according to the state dashboard.

Of the 85 COVID patients at FirstHealth’s hospitals 18 are vaccinated and 67 are not, according to an infographic. All but one of the 13 COVID patients in ICU and four on ventilators are unvaccianted.

FirstHealth’s COVID patients are from more than 13 counties in North Carolina and surrounding states.

Local hospitalizations jumped from 17 last week to 23 on Wednesday. (The Health Department is only relaying hospital statistics once per week.)

The total number of vaccinations among county residents — 17,077 — did not change from Tuesday. That accounts for 45% of the eligible population of those aged 12 and up.

Speight also gave vaccination rates by age range:

  • 12-17 - 16%
  • 18-24 - 20%
  • 25-49 - 32%
  • 50-64 - 58%
  • 65-74 - 76%
  • 75-up - 79%

From July 24-Aug. 23, 87 of the 752 cases were breakthrough cases involving patients who were fully vaccinated. To be considered fully vaccinated, an individual has to be two weeks past the final dose of the vaccine.

There had been 28 breakthrough cases from July 1-21.

Speight also told the board that seven of the then-130 people who had died were fully vaccinated. Last month, Speight declined to tell the RO how many deaths were of vaccinated individuals.

Of the 17 hospitalized last week, three were fully vaccinated, according to Speight.

Speight said a lot of vaccinated people who test positive have other health issues, adding that “the far majority” of cases, hospitalizations and deaths involve the unvaccinated.

She added that the risk of dying of COVID-19 is 15 times higher in the unvaccinated than the vaccinated.

The Pfizer vaccine is being reserved for those under 18 as it is the only one authorized for that age group.

The school system and the Health Department are teaming up for a vaccine clinic from 9-11 a.m. Saturday at the high school gym.

Anyone 18 or older should go to the Health Department for the Mondera shot.

Speight told the school board that booster shots have not yet cleared the FDA, but third shots are available for those who are immunocompromised.

Once booster shots are available, they will have to be the same as the vaccine previously administered, she said.

Vaccines are available at the Health Department Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Fridays from 8-11 a.m. There is no charge and no appointment necessary.