The good news that as more people are getting vaccinated, the pandemic may be coming to an end in our country, isn't very comforting to those who have lost friends and family members to the virus. 89 people in Lincoln County, 308 in Catawba and 414 in Gaston who were alive last Spring are now dead because of the virus.
The COVID-19 pandemic isn't over; but for us in most of the US and in North Carolina, it's no longer the top story in the news. The latest report from the Lincoln County Health Dept. issued Friday (June 4th) says Lincoln County is down to just 19 known active cases. It's the first time in over a year the number has been that low. 10,123 Lincoln Countians are said to have had the virus and recovered. Sadly, 89 didn't survive.
The vaccination program continues, now including teenagers, and while it was once difficult to get a vaccination, the supply of vaccine is now plentiful and getting your shots is easy. The Health Dept. reports that 37% of he county's population has now had at least one shot and 34% are fully vaccinated.
Statewide, 51% of those 12 years old or older (the youngest age currently authorized to receive the vaccine) have had at least one shot, 46% have been fully vaccinated.
President Biden has set a goal of having 70% of the population to have at least one shot by July 4th, but a top virologist with whom we have conferred at least twice monthly since October says that isn't likely to happen.
He says it may not matter==because the number of new cases continues to decline in most locations, and while the virus won't disappear, the pandemic will end for the US, even while other countries are battling outbreaks.
There are still some who are wearing their masks but it's no longer required if you've been vaccinated. The virologist noted this past week that the masks had an additional good effect besides helping to slow the spread of the virus even before we had the vaccines: the number of cases of influenza was lower this past winter. This year's flu season--which began in September and ended in May--saw only seven confirmed flu-related deaths in North Carolina.
Even now, the doctor says the masks may be havintg another positive effect for those who are wearing them: they can (especially the N95 or KN95 type) help those with allergies that are related to taking in pollen as you breathe.
As new cases decline, so do hospitalizations. In North Carolina, only 613 people were hospitalized related to the virus on Friday (June 4th). The number of new cases for the day was 680 and the positive test rate was 2.5%.
Since we're still officially in a pandemic, health departments continue to provide updates on COVID-19, but we expect that may end soon.