Friday, 21 January 2022 20:19

Richmond County Health Department cancels Saturday testing; reports more than 250 COVID cases, 2 deaths

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ROCKINGHAM — With the possibility of lingering snow, the Richmond County Health Department canceled COVID testing for Saturday — after reporting more than 250 new cases and additional deaths.

Local health officials had canceled testing on Friday ahead of the winter weather at drive-thru locations behind the Health Department and in the parking lot of Cole Auditorium.

Friday’s update from the Health Department showed the county’s pandemic total for new cases had risen to 10,786 — an increase of 226 from Thursday’s total.

With school being closed on Friday, there was no update to the Richmond County Schools COVID Tracker.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 35,395 new cases statewide — the second-highest one-day total of the pandemic. The record was set Jan. 14 at 35,759.

NCDHHS had a note at the top of its COVID-19 Dashboard reading: “Delays in laboratories reporting tests to NCDHHS may occur as laboratories are processing unprecedented numbers of COVID-19 tests.”

The Health Department also reported two new COVID-related deaths, bringing the total to 168. There have now been nine reported in 2022. There were 23 COVID-related deaths reported each in January and August of 2021.

Health Director Cheryl Speight said last week that the department would no longer issue press releases for COVID-related deaths, so no other details are available.

North Carolina’s COVID death total now sits at 20,193.

COVID-related hospitalizations have been steadily on the rise since Dec. 26 — increasing every day but one — and set a new record high of 4,867 on Thursday, according to NCDHHS.

On Friday, FirstHealth reported that 100 of its 407 patients (24.6%) were COVID-positive.

Dr. Gretchen Arnoczy, an infectious diseases physician at FirstHealth of the Carolinas, recently told a radio station that the Sandhills region health system “is becoming overwhelmed by the number of tests being done.”

“We are seeing lots of people testing positive, more people in the hospital with COVID,” she told Star 102.5 FM, as transcribed on the FirstHealth website. “Omicron is more contagious than the previous variants, and so it’s causing a lot of havoc on our community and health care system.”

NCDHHS announced that the state would be partnering with Atrium Health to request staffing assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Arnoczy said those without symptoms should hold back on getting tested “outside of high-risk exposures.”

She also says that the at-home tests are “pretty reliable.”

“If you test positive at home, you can trust it,” Arnoczy said. “You don’t need to come in to have that confirmed from a medical standpoint. We are recommending that people utilize these other resources for testing.”

The federal government recently started taking orders for at-home kits at Each family is eligible for four free kits.