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home : news : news May 16, 2021

3/19/2021 3:34:00 AM
Herd Immunity--Or A Fourth Wave?

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer


"Don't say you weren't warned." That's the way a top epidemiologist responded to the latest figures that show that while the national number of new cases of COVID-19 reported daily continues to fall, many states are seeing what could become a fourth wave of the virus. That same expert told us last week, "I'm not saying it might happen; I'm telling you it's going to happen. We are going to see a spike in cases because of two factors: one, people have jumped to the wrong conclusion, believing the pandemic is over; it's not! Two, we now have many new variants, and some of those mutations are more contagious--and more deadly--than the original."

Dr. Michael Osterholm, head of the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, told ABC News' "World News Tonight" Wednesday: "We're loosening up all the restrictions we've had, and in some ways creating a perfect storm moment for virus transmission, whether it's a variant or not."

Experts agree we're in a race--vaccinations against new infections. While the national number of new cases reported daily continues to fall, 15 states have seen their number of cases rise at least 10% and six states have seen an increase of 25% in the last week. In another 18 states, North Carolina among them, while the number of new cases reported daily hasn't risen, it has stalled at a plateau instead of continuing to decline.

17 states no longer have a mask mandate. Some have removed all restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the virus. In South Carolina, after restrictions were lifted, huge crowds gathered in bars over last weekend, most of them not wearing masks and ignoring social distancing.

Locally, the numbers are improving almost every week.  More people are getting vaccinated and the numbers of new cases and positive tests are declining.  The Lincoln County Health Dept. said Friday (March 19th) the number of known active cases of trhe virus in Lincoln County was down to just 43.  Catawba County had its highest number of new cases in two weeks last Monday--69, but the numbers have improved since.  Gaston County now has just 19 people hospitalized with the virus, Catawba County only 20.  But locally, just like in many other places, the number of people stlll practicing the 3Ws has declined, and schools return to in-person classes every day Monday-Friday effective Monday.  

Those eligible to get the vaccines now include group 4--those with medical conditions that might make them more vulnerable--everything from diabetes and a heart condition to high blood pressure, anyone who is obese, pregnant women, and anyone who is or has been a smoker.  This new group also includes anyone who might be staying in a homeless shelter or any other kind of congregate living situaion.  Some essential workers who don't necessarily work on the frontlines are in group 4b, which will become eligible on April 7th, people whose jobs are considered to be in an essential industry but who don't interact with the public, unlike the so-called frontline workers--those in grocery stores and other businesses who deal with the public.  

While they won't be doing vacciinations for group 4, the Health Dept. will have another first dose event for those in groups 1-3 this Thursday (March 25th) and Friday (March 26th).  The appointment slots will be made available online Tuesday, March 23rd at 9 AM. The vaccine appointment link can be found at http://www.lincolncounty.org/2355/COVID-19-VaccinationInformation under “Schedule an Appointment-Health Department-Lincolnton.”

Atriium Health Lincoln is continuing its vaccinations.  Those in groups 1-4 can also get vaccinated at Walgreens and Keever Pharmacy.  Kintegra Health is also scheduling clinics in Lincoln, Gaston & other counties that are open to any NC resident who meets current eligibility requirements. (As of Sunday morning, March 21st, while the event at Covenant Church this Wednesday, March 24th, was filled with no appointments available; the one at the Alexis Fire Dept. on Highway 27 in Alexis for Friday, March 26th, still had appointments available.  Appointments were also still available for a Kintegra vaccination clinic at Senior TLC, 1875 Remount Road in Gastonia Wednesday 1-4 PM.)




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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, March 21, 2021
Article comment by: Kimberly Austin

Here is a link which helps determine vaccine eligibility and describes the groups in detail:
https://findmygroup.nc.gov/

Group 3 that includes grocery store workers also includes many others:

"Do you work in any of the following industries?

Critical manufacturing (including manufacturing medical supplies, medical equipment or PPE, manufacturing products needed for food and agricultural supply chains)
Higher Education (including college and university instructors and support staff)
Essential goods (including workers in stores that sell groceries and medicine)
Food and agriculture (including meat packing workers, food processing workers, farm workers, migrant farm/fishery workers, food distribution and supply chain workers, restaurant workers)
Government and community services (including US Postal Service and other shipping workers, court workers, elected officials, clergy, homeless shelter staff)
Public health (including public health workers, social workers)
Public safety (including firefighters and EMS, law enforcement, corrections workers, security officers, public agency workers responding to abuse and neglect)
Transportation (including public transit, Division of Motor Vehicles workers, transportation, maintenance and repair technicians, workers supporting highway infrastructure)"

Most recent groups to be added include:
"Do you have any of the following high-risk conditions for COVID-19?

Asthma (moderate to severe)
Cancer
Cerebrovascular disease or history of stroke
Chronic kidney disease
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Cystic fibrosis
Diabetes type 1 or 2
A heart condition such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy
Hypertension or high blood pressure
Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from: immune deficiencies, HIV, taking chronic steroids or other immune weakening medicines, history of solid organ blood or bone marrow transplant
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, including Down Syndrome
Liver disease, including hepatitis
Neurologic conditions such as dementia and schizophrenia
Pulmonary fibrosis
Overweight or obesity
Pregnancy
Sickle cell disease (not including sickle cell trait) or thalassemia
Smoking (current or former)"
And:
"Are you currently experiencing homelessness, living in a homeless shelter, or are incarcerated in a correctional facility?" 
And:
"Do you live in a close group living setting, such as students living in dormitories?"
And
" Chemical (including workers in petrochemical plants, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceutical facilities, consumer products)
Commercial facilities (including retail workers, hotel workers)
Communications and information technology (including service repair dispatchers,  data center operators)
Defense industrial base (including workers supporting essential services to meet national security commitments)
Energy (including electric, petroleum, natural and propane gas workers)
Financial services (including workers who maintain systems for processing financial transactions, workers needed to provide consumer access to banking and lending services)
Hazardous materials (including nuclear facilities workers, workers managing medical waste)
Hygiene products and services (including laundromats, sanitation workers)
Public works and infrastructure support services (including plumbers, electricians, exterminators, workers supporting parks)
Residential facilities, housing, and real estate
Water and wastewater (including staff at water authorities, wastewater treatment facilities, water sampling and monitoring)"
And:
"Chemical (including workers in petrochemical plants, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceutical facilities, consumer products)
Commercial facilities (including retail workers, hotel workers)
Communications and information technology (including service repair dispatchers,  data center operators)
Defense industrial base (including workers supporting essential services to meet national security commitments)
Energy (including electric, petroleum, natural and propane gas workers)
Financial services (including workers who maintain systems for processing financial transactions, workers needed to provide consumer access to banking and lending services)
Hazardous materials (including nuclear facilities workers, workers managing medical waste)
Hygiene products and services (including laundromats, sanitation workers)
Public works and infrastructure support services (including plumbers, electricians, exterminators, workers supporting parks)
Residential facilities, housing, and real estate
Water and wastewater (including staff at water authorities, wastewater treatment facilities, water sampling and monitoring)"




This Facts page which answers several important questions about vaccination:

https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines/frequently-asked-questions-about-covid-19-vaccinations#who-is-being-vaccinated-first

Personally, I think a second wave may be on the horizon. Based on our collective past experience with COVID-19, I think a "better safe than sorry" approach would be the way to go. I do not intend on relaxing precautions once I am vaccinated, mostly because of the warnings regarding a "second wave" and the ferocious nature of the COVID-19 variants that are currently in the news. Personally, I have seen almost everyone I have seen in the past week was wearing a mask in public. Which gladdens my heart and gives me hope that many more of us will survive than if people did not wear masks. Hopefully we can avoid another wave! :)





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