ROCKINGHAM — COVID-related hospitalizations of Richmond County residents hit a near-record high Wednesday.
According to the Health Department’s weekly update, there were 26 local people in a hospital battling the coronavirus. The highest number reported since the pandemic began was 27 on Jan. 27.
Last Wednesday, there were 23 local hospitalizations. The Health Department only reports local hospital numbers on Wednesdays.
Hospitalizations across the state have remained relatively the same, with a slight decrease in recent days — down to 3,650 Tuesday from 3,815 Sept. 8, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
FirstHealth reports that 86 of its 406 (21%) patients are COVID-positive. Of those, 15 are vaccinated and 71 are not. All but one of the 15 patients in ICU and nine patients on a ventilator are unvaccinated.
The health system’s patients are from more than 13 counties in North Carolina and surrounding states.
The Health Department has reported 57 new cases in the past two days — 39 Tuesday and 18 Wednesday — bringing September’s two-week total to 530 and the overall case count to 6,558.
According to NCDHHS, Richmond County has a percent-positive rate of 14.5% over the past 14 days, which is higher than the state average.
Neighboring Anson County’s rate is 18.5% and Moore County’s is 16.7%.
Twenty-five other counties have a positive rate higher than 15 %. Of those, both Clay and Macon counties have rates higher than 20%.
Richmond County Schools has reported more than 200 cases since classes began on its COVID Tracker.
As of 6:50 p.m. Wednesday, seven new students had tested positive: two each at Hamlet Middle and the Ninth Grade Academy; and one each at Monroe Avenue and Washington Street elementary and Richmond Early College High School.
So far this school year, 183 students have tested positive, with seven of the 15 schools documenting more than 10 cases:
- 40 – Richmond Senior High School
- 27 – Hamlet Middle
- 19 – Ninth Grade Academy
- 13 – East Rockingham Elementary
- 12 – Washington Street
- 11 – Mineral Springs Elementary, REaCH
Ashley Chapel Educational Center has recorded only one case.
RCS has also reported 27 cases among staff members — 23 in the schools and four in Central Services — with Mineral Springs topping the list with five. As for the other schools:
- 3 – Washington Street
- 2 – East Rockingham, West Rockingham and Fairview Heights elementary, Cordova Middle, REaCH, Richmond Senior
- 1 – L.J. Bell, Monroe Avenue elementary, Rockingham Middle
Statewide cases were at 7,277 on Wednesday, according to NCDHHS.
So far, 17,469 county residents have received a vaccine — an increase of 78 since Monday’s update — accounting for 46% of the eligible population, according to the Health Department.
While local, state and federal health and government officials continue to encourage (or in some cases, mandate) vaccines and tout safety, the shots aren’t without their risks.
According to the CDC, as of Sept. 14, the following reactions have been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System:
- Anaphylaxis (allergic reaction) – Two to five people per million vaccinated
- Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome – 46 confirmed reports of more than 14.5 million doses of Johnson & Johnson; two of more than 362 million doses of Moderna
- Guillain-Barre Syndrome – 195 preliminary reports of Johnson & Johnson
- Myocarditis and pericarditis – 1,413 reports (854 confirmed) of those aged 30 or younger (most after Moderna or Pfizer)
- Death – 7,653 (“…even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause.”)
Interim Health Director Cheryl Speight told the Richmond County Board of Commissioners on Monday that the Pfizer vaccine is again available for adults.
Due to a low supply, that vaccine had been reserved for those under 18 as it is the only one authorized for that age group. Those 18 or older were given the Moderna shot. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is currently not available through the Health Department.
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.