Friday, 28 May 2021 11:37

Richmond County Health Department adjusts COVID testing schedule

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Richmond County Health Department adjusts COVID testing schedule Pixabay

ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County Health Department is narrowing the number of days each week it will be testing for the coronavirus.

Interim Health Director Cheryl Speight announced in a press release Friday that, starting June 1, the department would only be performing testing for COVID-19 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays.

Prior to his last day, now-retired Tommy Jarrell, who was health and human services director, said the volume of residents wanting to be tested has dropped off dramatically recently, with only about 15-20 people per day showing up, compared to 200 or more during the height of the pandemic.

According to recent county updates, there have been 20 new cases this week and, as of Thursday, three residents were hospitalized. Thursday’s update also showed there were 27 active cases — the fewest in more than a year. (The Health Department started listing the number of active cases on June 4, 2020.)

Since the first case was reported last April, Richmond County has recorded 4,739 total cases and 97 COVID-related deaths, the most recent announced May 25.

The Health Department is also offering free vaccine clinics from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays, with no appointment necessary.

All three vaccines with emergency use authorization in the U.S. — those made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — are available in Richmond County. However, local health officials are trying to reserve the Pfizer vaccine for teenagers, as it is currently the only one authorized for use on those aged 12 and up. Moderna is now seeking the same approval.

According to records with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, 15,156 residents (33.8%) are at least partially vaccinated and 13,850 (30.9%) are fully vaccinated.

The Health Department has a vaccination goal of 66%.

Because of Memorial Day Weekend, the Health Department will not be testing or administering vaccines Saturday or Monday.