The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in the Twin Counties has exceeded the 11,000 mark as the state Department of Health and Human Services just released a new county alert map Thursday that puts both Nash and Edgecombe counties in the critical COVID impact category.
The state’s county alert map assigns a color to each county based on its COVID metrics over the previous 14 days. According to the state DHHS website, the color of the state mostly is red now as almost all counties are in the red tier, which indicates critical impact.
There now are 86 red counties in the state, more than ever before. Another 13 counties are listed as orange counties, indicating substantial COVID impact. Only one county, Greene County, is listed in the yellow tier.
By comparison, the previous county alert from Jan. 6 showed 84 red counties, 12 orange counties and four yellow counties.
Edgecombe County is one of the counties that has turned red over the past two weeks. It has now moved back into the red tier as the 14-day positivity rate now is 10.5 percent. The COVID impact on hospitalizations in that county still is considered low. On the past two alerts, Edgecombe County was in the orange tier.
According to data from the state DHHS, the number of COVID cases in Edgecombe County has grown by 58 since Wednesday and as of Friday was at 3,825 cumulative cases of the coronavirus. The number of COVID-related Edgecombe County deaths stands at 88, though the county reported that total at 89 roughly two weeks ago before it stopped reporting COVID data.
Nash County remains in the red tier as it has been during the past two county alerts. The 14-day positivity rate in Nash County is listed as 12.2 percent. The COVID impact on hospitalizations in that county is considered moderate, according to that report.
Nash County Health Director Bill Hill Jr. said that COVID-related hospitalizations at Nash UNC Health Care had risen to the mid-50s over the past couple of weeks but have declined to the mid-40s since Wednesday. As of Friday, 45 patients were in the local hospital for COVID.
However, Hill said the number of patients in critical condition with COVID has not declined. Eight patients are in the COVID intensive care unit and five of those are on ventilators, Hill said Friday at a meeting of the Nash County COVID Response Team.
The number of cases of COVID still is rising significantly in Nash County, with 167 new cases reported since Wednesday. These additional cases bring the cumulative number of COVID cases as of Friday in Nash County to 7,359. The death toll in Nash County remains at 134.
The total number of COVID cases in the Twin Counties now is 11,184. Roughly 223 Twin County residents have died so far from COVID-related causes.
In the recent county alert report, state officials urged residents to get the COVID vaccine as soon as possible.
“All individuals should get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is their turn. Because vaccine supplies are still limited, you may have to wait your turn,” the state DHHS recommends.
Hill said Friday that the Nash County Health Department is all out of the first dose of the COVID vaccine.
“We administered about 100 vaccinations on Thursday and about another 240 today,” he said. “We have depleted our supply. However, we do have doses reserved for those who are due soon for their second dose of the vaccine.”
Hill said the county will be setting up at least two days of clinics later in the week to give out those second doses to the roughly 900 people who received the first dose early this month at a massive clinic held on the grounds of Nash Central High School.
Participants in that clinic will be informed this coming week by robocall of when those clinics will be held. Weather permitting, the vaccinations will be distributed at the same location as before.
Hill also said he is reaching out to Nash UNC Health Care officials to see if he can get access to more vaccine so that vaccinations can continue.
“According to the reports I have had from the state, the health department is not due to receive any more vaccine for first doses in this coming week,” he said.
Hill said the county already has a waiting list of more than 475 senior citizens who are eager to get the vaccine.