ROCKINGHAM — While the 20 COVID-19 cases reported by the Richmond County Health Department on Tuesday is higher than the weekend average, new cases of the virus seem to continue a recent slow-down.
There have been 232 cases reported so far this month — including the last two days of January — which is less than the 320 reported the first eight days of the new year.
Richmond County Schools on Tuesday reported two new cases involving a staff member at Rockingham Middle and a virtual student at Cordova Middle.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,786 new cases, the fewest per diem in more than two months.
Active cases in the county have dropped to 250, the lowest point since Dec. 31, after peaking at a record high of 504 on Jan. 14.
Statewide hospitalizations have also been declining, although DHHS reported a slight rise in COVID-related admissions — an increase of four, to 2,374 — from Sunday to Monday. County hospitalizations remain at 16.
According to FirstHealth, 57 of its 366 patients (15.6%) are COVID-positive. Scotland Memorial Hospital on Tuesday had 17 COVID patients isolated.
Even with the notable downward trend, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen says, “We are still seeing very high levels of spread across North Carolina.”
Cohen made the statement Tuesday in a press release regarding the state topping 10,000 COVID-related deaths. There have been 79 in Richmond County, the latest reported on Sunday.
North Carolina ranks ninth in population and 15th in COVID-related deaths, according to the latest statistics from Johns Hopkins University.
Cohen encourages residents to continue prevention measures — hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing — and to get vaccinated “when it’s your turn.”
Since there are limited supplies, the state is allowing COVID vaccinations in groups. Currently only health care and long-term care workers and residents aged 65 or older can get the vaccine.
With Richmond County Schools allowing students back into the classroom last week, there is a push to have teachers vaccinated as soon as possible.
There were only 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine available in Richmond County as of Monday, according to FirstHealth.
DHHS reports that 4,938 people in Richmond County have received the first of the two-dose vaccine, but only 842 have been administered both.
To sign up for the vaccine, call 910-417-3030 and leave your name, date of birth and phone number. Local health officials ask that callers not leave multiple messages.
The new hours for the free drive-thru testing clinic behind the Health Department are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays.
Of all the tests performed in Richmond County, 29,112 have been negative and 3,922 have been positive.