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COVID-19 claims seven more lives in Hertford County

As the news breaks of local citizens receiving their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week, the local death toll from the virus continues to rise.

Hertford County has lost seven residents over the past two weeks due to complications with the virus. Five of those deaths occurred last week; all were over the age of 65. Three of these deaths were associated with the facility outbreak at Ahoskie Assisted Living.

The county’s death toll increased by two this week. Both individuals were over the age of 65, but neither is associated with a facility outbreak.

According to the Friday (Jan. 8) update provided by Albemarle Regional Health Services (ARHS), the number of active cases are on the rise locally with Gates County topping that list with 189, followed by Hertford County (186), and Bertie County (153).

Since the pandemic began in March of last year, there have been nearly 200 deaths across the eight-county region served by ARHS. Locally, Hertford County has lost 52 of its residents to the virus; there have been 30 deaths in Bertie County; and 12 in Gates County.

The Northampton County Health Department reported 105 active COVID-19 cases as of Friday, Jan. 8. To date, there are 59 COVID-19 related deaths in Northampton.

ARHS launched its public vaccine clinics this week with shots given to essential workers and those ages 75 and over. There were just over 8,000 citizens vaccinated this week in the ARHS area, to include 900 in Hertford County; 550 in Bertie County; and 500 in Gates County.

“First and foremost, I want to thank our community for the overwhelming response to the mass COVID-19 vaccine clinics that were held over the last two days across the region, and most importantly your patience,” said R. Battle Betts, Jr., ARHS Health Director. “Moving to the vaccine response phase is a bright light in this pandemic.

“We cannot thank our community partners enough for their support and hard work during the clinics,” Betts added. “Without the endeavors of local Emergency Management, Emergency Medical Services, city and county government, local law enforcement, College of The Albemarle, Sentara Albemarle Medical Center, Vidant Chowan and Vidant Bertie, community volunteers, and countless others, ARHS would not have been able to administer over 8,000 doses of the vaccine. Mass clinics of this size require teamwork at the highest level and I am so proud of the level of commitment from our ARHS family and our community partners.”

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots. The second shot will come about 3-4 weeks after the first. ARHS encourages everyone who receives a vaccine to hold on to the vaccination card you received. This card not only notes the vaccine you received, but also when you should anticipate your second dose.

While there is some leeway on the scheduling of that second dose, ARHS will be scheduling clinics based on the 21- and 28- day mark. ARHS will provide vaccine clinics to accommodate those individuals who have already received their first dose of vaccine and will work with community partners to communicate information about these clinics. Vaccine will be allocated by the Federal government specifically for second doses. More information about those dates will be forthcoming.

Vaccine clinics will be offered on an ongoing basis based on weekly allocation of the vaccine. It is important to remember a tested, safe and effective vaccine will be available to all who want it, but supplies are limited at this time.

To save lives and slow the spread of COVID-19, NC DHHS recommends first protecting health care workers caring for patients with COVID-19, people who are at the highest risk of being hospitalized or dying and those at high risk of exposure to COVID-19. Therefore, ARHS will continue to focus on Phase 1a – healthcare workers and first responders and Phase 1b – individuals over the age 75 and expanding to frontline essential workers as vaccine supplies allow.

Although ARHS is moving into the vaccine phase of the pandemic, COVID-19 testing is still available for those meeting criteria by appointment only at the local health departments across the region. ARHS encourages residents to call their primary care provider for an assessment or information on testing availability before calling the local health department. If someone does not have a primary care home, ARHS does offer primary care services.

In its Jan. 7 update, Vidant Health officials said they continue to receive weekly shipments of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine as allocated by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. As of Jan. 7, more than 5,300 team members and providers have been vaccinated – including some that have received their second dose beginning this week.

As of Wednesday, Jan. 6, Vidant’s system-wide census of hospitalized COVID-19 patients is 218. Additionally, positivity rates remain high and are currently at about 20%.

Vidant officials stress the importance of continuing to practice important safety habits: wear a mask, wash hands often and avoid gatherings.

 

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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