Tuesday, 28 December 2021 15:04

Another COVID death, 143 cases reported in Richmond County; CDC changes quarantine guidelines

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Another COVID death, 143 cases reported in Richmond County; CDC changes quarantine guidelines Pixabay

ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County Health Department on Tuesday reported another COVID-related death and more than 140 new cases over the Christmas break.

The death announced late Tuesday morning brings the county’s pandemic total to 158 and comes a day after two others were reported.

There have now been seven COVID-related deaths this month with the others reported Dec. 6, 7, 16 and 20.

According to the Health Department, the updated race and gender breakdown is as follows: 24 African American females, 27 African American males, three “other race” females, one “other race” male, two Hispanic females, three Hispanic males, two American Indian males, 49 Caucasian females and 47 Caucasian males.

Those who have died range in age: 38 have been 80 or older; 40 have been in their 70s; 43 in their 60s; 24 in their 50s; eight in their 40s; and five in their 20s or 30s.

Of the county’s deaths, 126 have been at a hospital, 25 have passed away in another healthcare facility and seven have died outside of a health setting.

Based on previous reports, the most recent death appears to be that of a Caucasian man in his 60s.

Health Director Cheryl Speight said earlier this month that nine individuals who have died since vaccines were made available were fully vaccinated. The RO does not know if any of those who have died since were vaccinated.

Speight also said she was not aware of any deaths attributed to any of the three COVID-19 vaccines granted emergency use authorization.

North Carolina has recorded a total of 19,308 COVID-related deaths — an increase of 141 from Dec. 20 — according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Following five days without releasing numbers, the Health Department reported 143 new cases on Tuesday, which averages out to 28.6 cases per day from Dec. 23-27.

Across the state, cases peaked at nearly 7,000 on Christmas day:

  • Dec. 22 - 4,889
  • Dec. 23 - 5,770
  • Dec. 24 - 5,606
  • Dec. 25 - 6,895
  • Dec. 26 - 5,729
  • Dec. 27 - 4,469
  • Dec. 28 - 3.698

Hospitalizations due to COVID across North Carolina continue to steadily increase, hitting a recent high of 1,992 on Monday.

FirstHealth reports that 43 of its 378 patients (11.4%) are COVID-postive. Scotland Memorial Hospital had 19 on Dec. 23.

However, daily case rates and hospitalizations are lower than they were in early October.

The Health Department reported Tuesday that 20,496 residents have been vaccinated.

On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its quarantine recommendations from 10 to five days for those who are asymptomatic, followed by five days of wearing a mask.

For those who are unvaccinated, six months out from their second mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccine or two months from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and are exposed to COVID-19, the CDC also recommends five days of isolation followed by five days of mask wearing.

If quarantining is “unfeasible,” the CDC recommends 10 days of mask wearing after exposure.

According to the CDC, both doses of an mRNA vaccine are only 35% effective against the Omicron variant. However, a booster “restores vaccine effectiveness against infection to 75%.”

“The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society,”CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses. These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives. Prevention is our best option: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission, and take a test before you gather.”

Vaccinations have been authorized for children as young as 5 and booster shots are now available for all vaccinated adults.

COVID vaccinations and boosters are available at the Health Department from 8 a.m. -5 p.m. Monday-Thursday 8-5, and 8-11 a.m. on Fridays with no appointment needed.