Sun May 22, 2022

COVID-19 deaths on the rise in county [free read]

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Twelve Columbus Countians have died of COVID-19 complications in January, according to Health Director Kim Smith Thursday afternoon. Three have died in the last two days.

Smith added that the rate of vaccinations has also decreased in the county. Since last Thursday, 166 more residents have received their first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, 211 have become fully vaccinated and 482 added booster shots, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I’d rather have the vaccine numbers go up and the deaths go down,” Smith said. 

CDC data shows that overall 43.2% of Columbus County is fully vaccinated. 

“I would just plead with everyone to please get vaccinated,” Smith said. 

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One of the 12 deaths in January was of an individual who was “up to date” on vaccinations, which includes a booster shot, according to Smith. 

Since December 2020, when vaccine distribution began, the “majority” of deaths have been unvaccinated individuals, Smith said. 

The total number of deaths in Columbus County is now 249, according to Smith.

She said the total number of COVID-19 cases is now 15,406. Approximately 107 tested positive on Tuesday and 189 on Wednesday. 

“On Tuesday I would’ve told you we’re on a slight decline,” Smith said. “But then it went up on Wednesday.”

Smith added that the Columbus County Health Department has gotten a lot of calls from people with positive home tests, which are not reported to the state and therefore not included in the county’s case total. The health department has also been giving out home tests in its Whiteville location. 

This increase in cases has affected hospitals across the region. “All the hospitals in our area have a lot of stress on them right now,” Smith said. “When a COVID-19 patient goes in, that takes a bed that a cardiac, diabetic or stroke patient could use.”

As of Thursday morning, Columbus Regional Healthcare System had 27 COVID-19 inpatients with three in critical care, according to spokesperson Stephanie Miller. 

Smith is optimistic that the omicron wave will soon pass through Columbus County. “I’m hoping that next week we’re going to hit our peak and we’re going to start going down,” she said. 

Testing

Starting Friday, Columbus Regional Healthcare System will no longer re-test individuals who have tested positive in the prior 90 days. 

“After initial infection, the virus has the ability to be found in one’s system for weeks, and possibly months, and there is no CDC guidance for anyone to test negative prior to returning to work or school,” according to a press release. 

Other testing sites include Goshen clinics, Walgreens, CVS and St. Mark AME Zion Church. 

Whiteville City Schools is hosting a testing clinic Friday (today) for students and staff. Testing will be available 8:30–9:30 a.m. at Whiteville Primary, 9:45–10:45 a.m. at Edgewood Elementary, 11 a.m. to noon at Central Middle and North Whiteville, and 12:15–1:15 p.m. at Whiteville High. 

Parents will need to register their children under the age of 18 ahead of time, and anyone age 18 and older may register themselves. To register, go to the individual school website and complete the registration link, according to Superintendent Marc Whichard. 

Schools

Since Monday morning, Columbus County Schools saw 32 new positive cases, but no quarantines associated with school exposure, according to a spreadsheet released Thursday morning. The schools with the most cases were Williams Township School with six and Old Dock Elementary with five. 

Classical Charter School of Whiteville reported 22 active cases as of Tuesday. These are cases diagnosed within the past 10 days and may include some cases reported Jan. 18.

Thomas Academy students remained in virtual instruction all this week. Columbus Christian Academy Principal Jennifer Noble said Thursday that there were three positive cases in the school. 

WCS Superintendent Marc Whichard said Jan. 10 that he would only report case and quarantine numbers once a week on Mondays. 

 

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