ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County Health Department reported more than 300 new cases and one new COVID-related death on Wednesday.
The daily update showed the county’s pandemic total has risen to 10,445, meaning an additional 343 residents had tested positive since the previous report.
Richmond County Schools reported 15 new cases on its COVID Tracker.
Of the 13 students who tested positive, there were: four at Hamlet Middle; three at Richmond Early College High School; two each at Fairview Heights and Washington Street Elementary; and one each at Monroe Avenue Elementary and Cordova Middle.
The two staff cases were both at East Rockingham Elementary.
Since the school year began in August, 930 students and 227 staff members have tested positive, according to the tracker. Richmond Senior High School tops both lists with 224 students and 29 staff members.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 17,374 new cases on Wednesday. The state has recorded more than 10,000 cases each day since Dec. 30, with every day except Jan. 4 exceeding the previous record of 11,581 set in January of 2021.
There are also reports of individuals being diagnosed with both COVID-19 and the flu, which has been dubbed “flurona.”
N.C. State professor Matt Koci, a virologist and immunologist whose work focuses on interactions in birds, says the “flurona” is not “some new frankenvirus hybrid.”
“You can get infected with both viruses (or other combinations of viruses), but so far this has been rather rare,” Koci said in a story on the university’s website. “I’ve not seen any data to suggest that it is getting more common, but if it does, it’s substantially more likely to affect the unvaccinated and unmasked first. I strongly encourage people to get their COVID-19 vaccine — and booster, if eligible — and their flu shot.”
COVID-related hospitalizations set yet another new record high for the state on Tuesday at 4,689, according to NCDHHS, nearly tripling within the past month.
According to FirstHealth, 104 of its 416 hospital patients (25%) on Wednesday were COVID-positive. Scotland Memorial Hospital had 45 isolated patients.
The Health Department reported Wednesday that 28 county residents were hospitalized.
The department also reported that the COVID-related death toll has risen to 166. The first was reported in April of 2020, soon after the first cases.
The latest death makes the seventh reported in 2022.
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.
When compared to the other five counties with similar populations (43,000-48,000) Richmond ranks the highest. Records with NCDHHS show the following death totals:
- Vance – 108 (+2)
- Beaufort – 140 (+0)
- McDowell – 140 (+0)
- Stokes – 125 (+3)
- Jackson – 80 (+0)
(Additions in parentheses are since Jan. 10. State records may not reflect county records, as Richmond is still only shown to have 157. During the same time period, Richmond has had two.)
Neighboring Scotland County, which has about 10,000 fewer residents than Richmond, has had 157 COVID-related deaths.
The federal government began taking orders for home testing kits on Wednesday at covidtests.gov.
President Joe Biden previously announced that the government would make a billion kits available.
According to the website, families can order up to four kits, which will ship within seven to 12 days.
Free drive-thru COVID testing is available behind the Health Department in Rockingham and the parking lot of Cole Auditorium in Hamlet. However, rapid testing will be unavailable until further notice.
The Health Department also offers free COVID vaccines and boosters for those who want them.
Records with NCDHHS show that 20,839 Richmond County residents are fully vaccinated and more than 8,000 have gotten boosters.