The Lincoln County Health Dept. issued another of its COVID Snapshots Wednesday (Aug. 18th).
The number of new cases since last Wednesday was 315, and the number of known active cases increased by 50--from 386 a week ago to 436 this week. On Thursday alone, Lincoln County had 55 new cases, 53 more Friday.
Catawba County's weekly report this week (Wednesday) showed 385 new cases since the previous Wednesday. That week's report showed 323 new cases. The week before that, it was 201; the week before that 132; and the week before that 69.
The increase in new cases is typical of what is happening all across North Carolina as the fourth wave of COVID-19 worsens thanks to the more transmissible delta variant. On Thursday, the NCDHHS reported 7,020 new cases. Hospitalizations had increased to 3,083. The death toll since the pandemic began reached 14,005 as of Thursday. On Friday, the state reported 6,631 new cases; hospitalizations had increased to 3,147.
Governor Roy Cooper and NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen provided another update on the virus Wednesday. Cohen said the number of new cases and hospitalizations continues to grow. Statewide, there were 5,256 new cases on Wednesday. 2,930 North Carolinians remained hospitalized with the virus. The figures got worse Thursday and Friday. The percentage of positive tests for the virus was 13.2% Wednesday; 12.3% Thursday, 11.9% Friday, but new cases topped seven thousand on Thursday and hospitalizatons continued to increase.
Statewide, 59% of adults are now considered fully vaccinated, although a third dose of the vaccine is being recommended eight months after receiving your second.
Those who have compromised immune systems--people who have had an organ transplant or who may be undergoing treatment for cancer, for example--can get their third shot now.
Atrium Health is offering a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to those with compromised immune systems. Data has not yet revealed if those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would benefit from a second dose.
Atrium Health facilities throughout the Charlotte metro area are offering the vaccines. Appointments to receive a third dose at an Atrium Health facility may be made by visiting AtriumHealth.org/COVID19Vaccine or by calling 704-468-8888.
According to Atrium Health, the brand of a patient’s third dose should match the brand of the two previous doses the person received.
To avoid bringing immunocompromised people into large gatherings, Atrium Health will not be hosting mass vaccination clinics to distribute these third-dose vaccines.
As with the first doses of the COVID vaccines, these shots will be administered at no out-of-pocket cost to the patient.
In the weeks ahead, Atrium Health will be preparing to deliver Pfizer and Moderna booster vaccines to everyone who is at least eight months removed from receiving their second dose vaccination.
More younger people now being infected
One big difference in the local figures from what was true last year: more younger people are being infected--mostly because they have low percentages of vaccinations. According to that Wednesday report, in the past 14 days, 27% of Lincoln County's new cases were people under age 25; 65% were under 50; those over age 65 were only 14% of the new cases.
Anyone over age 12 is now eligible to get vaccinated.
School starts Monday for Lincoln, Gaston, Catawba and Cleveland County Schools. Gaston County's school board voted Monday to reverse a July decision and make masks mandatory for students, teachers and staff regardless of their vaccination status. Lincoln County's school board didn't change its mind last week, but following a request from the County Health Dept. the administration announced this week that masks will be required for at least the first 30 days. Cleveland County's school board also reversed its earlier decision on Wednesday when they voted 7-2 to require masks. Catawba County's school board voted for 'masks optional' in late July. They'll hold a regularly scheduled meeting Monday evening (Aug. 23rd). Lincoln Charter, which began the year 'masks optional' has had multiple cases of COVID-19 involving staff & administrators and has now made masks required for personnel, but so far, they're still optional for students.
We checked with Westlake Preparatory Academy and they are still 'masks optional.' Gaston County's largest charter school, Piedmont Community Charter in Gastonia, decided Thursday night (Aug. 19th) to make masks required.
Masks now required at courthouse--maybe...
Judge Forrest Bridtges issued a court order last Friday (Aug. 13th) that says masks are required in the courthouses in Lincoln & Cleveland counties. The order says:
"(a) Effective immediately and upon the entry of this order, facial coverings are now required of any person entering Cleveland County Courthouse and Lincoln County Courthouse facilities regardless of vaccination status.
(b) Facial coverings will be required in all public areas, hallways, offices and courtrooms of said court facilities. Any person(s) entering court facilities who do not have a facial covering will be provided a mask prior to entry.
(c) This facial covering requirement includes all court personnel, law enforcement, jurors attorneys and the public who enter court facilities to conduct court business.
Sheriff Bill Beam says those who are entering courtrooms will be told they must wear a mask. Signs tell the particulars of the court order. But Beam says if someone is conducting business at the Clerk of Court's office or is not entering a courtroom, deputies will not stop them. "Legal counsel tells me that the judge's authority doesn't apply to areas other than the courtrooms," Beam told us. "Those are the actual court facilities."