Home Local News COVID cases on downward trend in Richmond County

COVID cases on downward trend in Richmond County

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ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County remains at high risk for COVID transmission, although new case numbers are the lowest since late June.

The Richmond County Health Department on Wednesday reported that the total number of cases, since the first was reported in April of 2020, is now up to 14,591.

That means there were 111 new cases reported this week, down from the 191 from last week. The last time weekly numbers were below 120 was the week of June 22, when 89 were reported.

Source: Richmond County Health Department

Richmond is one of 67 counties considered high risk by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Scotland and Robeson counties have dropped back to medium risk, as opposed to two weeks ago.

Every coastal county from Onslow north to Currituck — except Carteret — is labeled high risk, while the southern counties (Pender, New Hanover, Brunswick, Columbus and Bladen) are medium risk.

There are six North Carolina counties currently considered low risk: Jackson, Avery, Ashe and Watauga in the mountains and Rockingham and Caswell on the Virginia border.

Statewide cases have also dropped slightly, from 33,726 on July 23 to 29,670 on Aug. 6, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
NCDHHS notes on the graph that data could still be incomplete.

Although cases have seen a slight rise during the summer months, totals are similar to what they were the same time last year.

State data trends show numbers are lower in the spring and fall months with a moderate rise in the summer and spike during the winter. More than 235,000 weekly cases were reported the week of Jan. 15, 2022 but dropped below 3,000 in late March.

Health Director Cheryl Speight speculated on Wednesday that the decrease could be in part to the increase in home testing and those numbers going unreported.
The Health Department halted testing at the end of July as NCDHHS now encourages residents to test at home.

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Earlier this week, NCDHHS announced that residents “in eligible zip codes can receive up to five at-home COVID-19 tests free of charge and shipped directly to their door,” due to a partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation. Eighty counties, including Richmond, are covered by that program.

While Richmond County has seen a slight decrease, the same can’t be said for several counties in the same population group.

Three counties with a population of 42,000-48,000 — Beaufort, Stokes and Vance — have had more cases in the past two weeks, according to numbers from NCDHHS. Davie Stokes and Vance counties have even seen their numbers increase.

Note: Figures reflect case numbers over a two-week period. The RO does not have comparative data for the previous week. Source: NCDHHS

The number of patients statewide hospitalized with COVID continues an upward trend, with 1,354 admitted for the week ending Aug. 6 — up four from the previous week.
As of Aug. 8, 23 of the 390 patients (5.9%) in FirstHealth’s hospitals were COVID-positive. Contrary to statewide numbers, the regional tally is down from 30 on July 25.

The health system’s data includes patients from Moore, Richmond, Cumberland, Hoke, Lee, Robeson, Montgomery, Scotland, Randolph, Harnett, Chatham and Johnston counties, as well as those from out of state.

The Omicron BA.5 variant, which was first measured in North Carolina in mid-May now accounts for about 2/3 of statewide cases and has been the dominant variant since early July.

Of the 29,670 new cases this week, 4,576 were reinfections, according to NCDHHS. That statistic seems to have tapered off, with the rate dropping from 15.6% on July 30 to 15.4% Aug. 6.

Source: NCDHHS

According to NCDHHS, 49% of Richmond County’s population has been completely vaccinated and 24% have received at least one booster.

Although a fourth vaccine, manufactured by Novavax, was recently given authorization in the U.S., Speight says it is not yet available in Richmond County — and she’s not sure when, or if, it will be.

Those made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are available.

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Managing Editor William R. Toler is an award-winning writer and photographer with experience in print, television and online media.