1/12/2021 5:03:00 PM COVID-19 Report Updated Wednesday Includes info on scheduling a vaccination appt.
UPDATE Thursday Jan. 14th: Gov. Cooper announced Thursday morning that the age for inclusion in Phase 1b, group 1 is being lowered to 65+. Those who are 65 or older can now schedule vaccinations.
Wayne Howard Staff Writer
For the first time since the pandemic began, the number of active cases in Lincoln County topped 600 Tuesday. The Health Dept. reported 616 active cases and 46 deaths from the virus. 238 of those cases were newly reported on Tuesday.
Catawba County had two more deaths Wednesdy to push its total to 203. 93 new cases brought the total number confirmed to 13,439. 100 Catawba County residents were hospitalized with the virus.
Gaston County reported 321 new cases since Monday, bringing their total to 18,549 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, 11 more deaths increased the number who have died to 289 and 123 people remain hospitalized.
Cleveland County reported 802 active cases Wednesday. 11 more deaths since Monday brought that total to 168. 55 Cleveland County residents were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Statewide, hospitalizations on Wednesday were 3,961. 7,745 North Carolinians have died from the virus.
The CDC issued new guidelines for the COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC now wants states to lower the age to 65 instead of 75 for being first to get the vaccine after health care workers. The change hasn't yet been implemented by North Carolina, but it's likely coming soon.
While the pandemic is certainly the worst it has been, there are some promising signs. First, while the rollout has been slow and has met with some problems, at least vaccines are now available. North Carolina has been one of the slowest states at getting people inoculated, but the number who got their first of two shots is increasing daily. Health departments in Lincoln, Gaston, Catawba and Cleveland counties have all announced plans for COVID-19 vaccinations, and what is no doubt the smoothest operation of giving COVID-19 vaccine shots began this week at Atrium Health Lincoln as well as Atrium Health locations in Cabarrus & Union counties. [See our articles about the vaccination clinics at Atrium Health and those being conducted by the health departments.]
Another promising sign is that the use of face coverings is obviously increasing. We've been observing the compliance with the mask mandate since it was first issued, and the percentage of people who are not wearing masks has decreased recently while the number who are has increased. More people who weren't before are apparently now taking this virus seriously as it spreads to infect members of more and more households.
Among those who have recovered from a bout with the virus are two Lincoln County Commissioners==Carrol Mitchem and Cathy Davis. Davis not only had the virus; she's had one child and two grandchildren who have been infected. She posted on Facebook: "I had COVID-19 mid-November. The body aches and pains did not compare to the flu, much worse; and for five days I will say I was very concerned. Glad my oxygen levels stabilized quickly and I did not need to be hospitalized. Now that one of my children and two grandchildren have the virus, it is hard to watch them deal with it. Please join me in prayer for the healing and comfort of all who are experiencing Covid, from the mildest of cases to the most severe."
Those adults 75 and older who are part of what is now Phase 1b, group 1, can schedule appointments to get vaccinated. In Lincoln County, call 704-479-2202. The Health Dept. was at first taking voicemails and attempting to return calls, but they've ended that practice. If you don't get someone when you call, they say call again later.
In Catawba County, patients of Catawba Valley Medical Group (CVMG) can check the website https://www.catawbavalleyhealth.org/ or call the Catawba Valley Health System Vaccine Line at 828-326-3993 to schedule an appointment. Those who have an independently-owned provider, do not have a regular medical provider or prefer to receive the vaccination through Public Health should call Catawba County Public Health’s COVID-19 Vaccination Appointment Line at 828-695-6650 to set up an appointment.
The Gaston County Health Dept. is conducting vaccination clinics at the Gastonia Farmers Market on E. Long Ave. in Gastonia on Fridays. They began last week. To schedule an appointment, call 704-866-3170. County employees will staff the hotline beginning Tuesday morning (Jan. 5th) at 8 AM and will be available each day until 5 PM.
If all operators are busy, residents can leave a voicemail, and a staffer will return their call to begin the registration process.
Gaston County is hosting vaccination clinics each Friday at the Gastonia Farmer’s Market on E. Long Avenue in Gastonia. To schedule an appointment, call the vaccination hotline at 704-866-3170. County employees are staffing that line each day Monday-Friday 8 AM until 5 PM. If all operators are busy, residents can leave a voicemail, and a staffer will return their call to begin the registration process. More details on the Gaston County vaccinations can be found at GastonSaves.com/covid19vaccine.
Cleveland County is preparing to begin a Point of Distribution (POD) mass vaccination drive-thru plan the week of January 18th.
Cleveland County Health Director Tiffany Hansen said there will be up to four (4) POD locations – with only one being utilized at a time:
1. Burns Middle School 2. Kings Mountain Intermediate School 3. Crest High School 4. the LeGrand Center
County officials plan to hold three (3) mass drive-thru vaccination clinics per week. The LeGrand Center will be a standing site that is used weekly, and the school sites will be utilized on Wednesdays and Saturdays on a rotating basis.
What appears to us to be by far the most efficient rollout of vaccinations is the one being conducted by Atrium Health Lincoln (as well as Atrium Health locations in Union & Cabarrus counties).
They began daily drive-thru clinics on Monday (Jan. 11th) and care continuing them every day of the week until further notice. 210 people are getting shots each day. For now, those being vaccinated are from North Carolina's Phase 1B, Group 1, senior citizens 75 or older.
You don't have to be a resident of Lincoln County--or for that matter, of North Carolina--to schedule getting a COVID-19 vaccination at Atrium Health, but you do need an appointment.
Those age 75 and older can schedule their vaccination appointment through an existing MyAtriumHealth account. Those who don’t have a MyAtriumHealth account, can create one by clicking here. Even if you are not in the group currently getting vaccinated, you should go ahead and establish an account so you can make an appointment when you qualify as a part of the group getting shots.
Please understand that establishing an account doesn't financially obligate you--the vaccinations are being provided FREE as part of a government program. Having people establish an account provides a way to keep track of the distribution of the vaccines, a state requirement.
For now, as said, North Carolina's vaccination program (including all of these we've mentioned) is vaccinating those in Phase 1b, group 1--those 75 or older. While the CDC has changed its suggested guidelines to lower the age of that group to 65, North Carolina has not--so far. NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen has expressed some frustration with the CDC's evolving recommendations. "They keep changing," she said in a tv interview Wednesday evening, "we'll probably change ours, too, but not yet."
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