February 27, 2021

Updates on COVID-19 cases, vaccine

On Friday, January 22, 2021, the Alexander County Health Department has reported that there are currently 20 people hospitalized with COVID-19, and sadly, there have been 61 deaths associated with the virus. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), Alexander County has a cumulative total of 3,316 confirmed COVID-19 cases which includes 470 cases in the past 14 days and 162 cases in the past seven days.

Alexander County remains a “red” county for critical community spread in the state’s County Alert System. As of January 21, Alexander County’s COVID-19 positive rate was 14.3 percent while the state rate is 10.3 percent.

The health department continues to work diligently to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to as many people as possible in a safe manner, while adhering to recently-revised state guidelines. The department is currently administering vaccinations to health care workers in Group 1 and those ages 75+ in Group 2.

First-dose vaccination appointments are scheduled through Monday, January 25, which will completely deplete the health department’s vaccine supply of 2,575 first doses (1,600 Moderna, 975 Pfizer). Unfortunately, the health department will not receive a vaccine shipment from the state next week, so no appointments will be scheduled until additional vaccine is received.

Currently, there are more than 2,800 people ages 65+ who are on the waiting list to receive the vaccine. If you have called and left your contact information on the hotline (828-352-7724) or submitted your information via the online form (www.alexandercountync.gov/covid), you will be contacted when vaccine becomes available. There is no need to submit your contact information again. Once more vaccine is in stock, the health department will begin scheduling appointments for those ages 65+ in the order in which their information was received.

Second-dose vaccinations have just begun in Alexander County. These doses have been received and are specifically designated by the state to be used for the second dose to those who have already received the first dose.

The health department is also accepting candidates for its “quick-response list” for those who can be there in 15 minutes or less to be vaccinated at the end of the day to avoid wasting any vaccine. If interested, call the hotline at 828-352-7724 or complete the online form at www.alexandercountync.gov/covid.

As the state’s distribution plan progresses, three local pharmacies will also be providing vaccinations: Office Practice of Pharmacy, Peoples Drug, and Town & Country Drugs. Currently, no timeline has been provided by the state as to when these pharmacies will receive the vaccine.

The state has significantly revised the distribution plan, per CDC guidelines. Here are the vaccination groups as of January 22, 2021:

Group 1: Health care workers & Long-Term Care staff and residents
• Health care workers with in-person patient contact
• Long-term care staff and residents — people in skilled nursing facilities, adult care homes, and continuing care retirement communities

Group 2: Older adults
Anyone 65 years or older, regardless of health status or living situation

Group 3: Frontline essential workers
The CDC defines frontline essential workers as workers who are in sectors essential to the functioning of society, who are at substantially higher risk for exposure to COVID-19, work in-person at their job, and work in one of these eight essential sectors: critical manufacturing, education, essential goods, food and agriculture, government and community services, health care and public health, public safety, and transportation.

Group 4: Adults at high risk for exposure and increased risk of severe illness
• Anyone 16-64 years old with high-risk medical conditions that increase risk of severe disease from COVID-19 such as cancer, COPD, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes, among others, regardless of living situation
• Anyone who is incarcerated or living in other close group living settings who is not already vaccinated due to age, medical condition or job function
• Essential workers not yet vaccinated. The CDC defines these as workers in transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, food service, shelter and housing (e.g., construction), finance (e.g., bank tellers), information technology and communications, energy, legal, media, public safety (e.g., engineers) and public health workers; and

Group 5: Everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination

The Alexander County Health Department appreciates the community’s support and patience during this time.

Alexander County Government continues to urge citizens to practice the 3 Ws: wear a mask, wait at least six feet apart, and wash their hands often.

To learn more about the vaccination plan in North Carolina, visit the NCDHHS website at https://yourspotyourshot.nc.gov. There you will find a variety of videos, PDF documents, frequently asked questions, and more.

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