Columbus County is no longer the worst in the region when it comes to its share of residents vaccinated, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Currently, 11,254 residents, or 20.3%, have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Cumberland County, at 15.4% of its population, and Robeson County, at 16.7% of its population, are the worst in the region.
To vaccinate more residents, the Columbus County Health Department has appointments available for the Moderna vaccine on Thursday, according to spokesperson Daniel Buck. Anyone age 18 and older can call 910-640-6615, ext. 7072 or 7074, to schedule.
In addition, StarMed is hosting another Pfizer vaccine clinic Wednesday in Riegelwood for anyone age 16 and older. The clinic will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Riegelwood Community Park, 142 Waccamaw Rd., Riegelwood. Call 980-445-9818 or visit StarMed.care to schedule an appointment.
While Columbus County has already opened up vaccine eligibility to everyone, North Carolina will officially open to the rest of Group 4 on Wednesday and then to Group 5 on April 7, according to Gov. Roy Cooper on March 25.
The second phase of Group 4 includes workers in the chemical industry, commercial facilities, communications and information technology, construction, defense industrial bases, energy industry, financial service, hazardous materials industry, hygiene products and services industry, public works and infrastructure support services and the water and wastewater industry, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
Group 5, or the final group, includes anyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Pfizer for anyone age 16 and older, along with Moderna and Johnson & Johnson for anyone 18 and older.
Studies within these companies are underway to test their vaccines with children younger than the currently approved age.
Two more deaths
Columbus County added two more COVID-19 related deaths on March 23 and 24, according to NCDHHS. The total is now 149.
The county also has seen a total of 6,118 COVID-19 cases, with seven on March 23, six on March 24, eight on March 25 and four on March 26, according to NCDHHS, which states these numbers are subject to change.
NCDHHS also declared the latest outbreak at Liberty Commons, with 85 cases and 10 deaths, and the latest cluster at Whiteville High School, with eight student cases and six staff cases, “over.”
In addition, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety reported zero active cases and 165 recoveries at Columbus Correctional Institution, along with three active cases and 483 recoveries at Tabor Correctional Institution.
Almost 3,800 staff and 1,800 inmates at correctional facilities across the state have been fully vaccinated, according to NCDPS, which does not provide vaccine numbers by county or facility.
Schools see two cases, two quarantines
Columbus County Schools had one positive case, a student at Williams Township School, spokesman Kelly Jones reported before presstime Monday.
Whiteville City Schools has one staff quarantine at Whiteville High and one student quarantine at North Whiteville Academy, according to Superintendent Marc Whichard Monday morning.
Columbus Charter School Headmaster Steve Smith received notice from a parent midday Monday that one student had tested positive.
Principals George Ward III of Thomas Academy and Jennifer Noble of Columbus Christian Academy reported no cases at their schools Monday morning.