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Lincoln Herald | Lincolnton, NC

home : news : news October 19, 2021

9/10/2021 5:14:00 PM
Schools Report More COVID Cases
Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), is perhaps the most knowledgeable epidemiologist in the country.  He has updated the latest valid information on the pandemic weekly for over a year.  His latest podcast addresses especially the delta variant surge and what it means for schools:

"Recalculating the Risk" (Sept. 9, 2021)

Wayne Howard

The number of new cases of COVID-19 in area schools continues to grow.  Lincoln County Schools reported just 37 cases during the first week of school (Aug. 23-27).  That increased to 90 confirmed positive cases in week #2 (Aug. 30-Sept. 3). This week (Sept. was closed Monday for the Labor Day holiday-Sept. 10), the number of cases increased to 126.  

Rock Springs had 16 cases; Lincolnton High School had 15.  There were 12 cases at G.E. Massey, 11 at East Lincoln Middle School, 9 at Norris Childers, 8 at Catawba Springs, 6 at Lincolnton Middle, 5 each at Battleground and North Lincoln Middle, 4 each at East Lincoln High, North Lincoln High, Love Memorial, and North Brook, 3 at Iron Station and Pumpkin Center Primary, and two each at S. Ray Lowder and Union, and 2 cases in the schools' central offices.

The Lincoln County Board of Education will hold its regular monthly meeting Tuesday evening (Sept. 14th).  

Catawba County Schools, who unlike Lincoln County started the school year 'masks optional' and only required the effective last Thursday (Sept. 2nd) saw their number of students quarantined because of positive tests or exposure peak last Friday (Sept. 3rd) when 12.1% of the students were quarantined or in isolation.  On Friday (Sept. 10th) CCS reported 1611 students quarantined (10.3%) and 68 staff (3.4%).  

Cleveland County Schools reported 126 new confirmed cases this week (Sept. 7-10).  Other students remained on quarantine after cases reported earlier.  Kings Mtn. High School has been especially hard hit--with 39 new cases in the past 10 days.  Crest High School had 30 cases in the same period.  Burns High had only 12 and Shelby High just 10 new cases in the last 10 days.  

Gaston County Schools had 156 new COVID cases this week.  East Gaston High School had seven cases; several schools had six and several more had five.  

On Friday (Sept. 10th) Lincoln Charter School reported 16 active cases among students at the Denver campus and 14 plus one faculty member at the Lincolnton campus.  The Charter School Board will meet Monday evening at 6:30.  The special meeting will be just to discuss the masking requirement LCS has in place since a decision last month.  

As we reported Wednesday, the Lincoln County Health Dept. released its weekly report on the virus (Snapshot #32) Wednesday afternoon.  The number of active cases declined from 496 a week ago to 456, the lowest figure in three weeks; but the 14-day daily average of new cases increased from 56.4 to 57.6.  One thing that was most concerning about their report is that of those new cases, 31% were under age 18.

The rate of infections among the young was a matter of concern to Jennifer McCracken, Catawba County's Public Health Director, who issued the following news release on Thursday (September 9th):

"In my role at Public Health, I have become accustomed to seeing troubling COVID-19 data in our community, but the data we released this week gave me pause. For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we reported deaths among people as young as their 20s, 30s and 40s. 

"These were the youngest people yet to succumb to COVID-19 in our community. At our winter peak in December, the average age of a person who died from COVID-19 was 77. Today, it is 59.

"COVID-19 is hitting us harder and faster – and younger and healthier – than we could have imagined two months ago.

"Cases are continuing to rise faster than ever before; from the end of June to the end of August, there has been a 995% increase in new cases reported. And just this week at Public Health, the line for COVID-19 testing wrapped around our parking lot and stretched into the street – a very visible reminder that this isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

"Just as troubling, hospitalizations are rising at an unprecedented rate, especially among the unvaccinated. Earlier this week, both hospitals in the county reported that 87% of patients currently in the hospital for COVID-19 are unvaccinated. While we know vaccination isn’t a magic bullet, it does dramatically reduce the likelihood of a person needing hospitalization or intensive care for COVID-19. Our hospitals are on the verge of being overwhelmed, which will only serve to amplify the detrimental impact of COVID-19 in our community well beyond those who contract it.

"Our countywide vaccination rate is hovering at just under 50%, so there’s a lot more we can do to prevent the worst of COVID-19. We urge everyone to get the shot as soon as possible at an area pharmacy, physician's office, community event or at Catawba County Public Health. We also highly recommend that everyone – not just folks who are unvaccinated – wear masks when around people who don’t live with you, keep several feet of distance apart from others, and practice frequent handwashing to help reduce the spread of disease throughout our community.

"This week’s data was a grim reminder that COVID-19 is starting to catch up with us. If you think you are young and healthy enough to handle COVID-19 without a vaccine, I urge you to think again. And if you trust our medical community to care for you when you get COVID-19, I humbly ask you to please trust us now, before you get sick, and get vaccinated. It saves lives."

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From the beginning of the pandemic, we've done our best to provide our readers with accurate information.  Sometimes the facts we've reported have drawn criticism from those with whose opinion they don't agree.  If you haven't already been vaccinated, you should get your shots; but vaccinated or not, we strongly suggest (based on evidence) that you--and your children in school--continue to wear an N95 or KN95 mask (properly--covering the nose, too!) for your own protection and that of others, especially when you're in gatherings with other people who may or may not be vaccinated, and vaccinated or not, may have the virus.  
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