New Hanover County sees surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations – WECT

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – COVID-19 case numbers are rising at an alarming rate in North Carolina. The state is reporting its highest daily case numbers since mid-February.

The nationwide virus surge has come to New Hanover County. The county is now seeing a high rate of transmission of the virus, according to the latest county map released by the CDC. The number of cases reported over the past week is alarming to health officials, including New Hanover County Assistant Health Director Carla Turner.

“Two weeks ago we had around 140 positives,” said Turner. “Last week, we had 386 positive results reported to us at the health department so it more than doubled, close to tripling, our numbers.”

Hospitalization numbers are up as well at New Hanover Regional Medical Center according to Chief Clinical Officer Dr. West Paul.

“Three-four weeks ago we were down to one patient with COVID,” said Paul. “We’ve had as high as the mid-50s, we’re in the mid-40s to high-40s now so that’s a rather dramatic rise.”

With the Delta variant of COVID-19 spreading across the country, the attention is once again on getting more people vaccinated. Officials say fewer vaccinated people could lead to more mutations of the virus.

“If we can’t continue to get vaccinated quickly, we’re going to see the potential for more variants to develop,” said Turner.

Another side-effect of a more-rapid spread and fewer vaccinations is a rise in hospitalizations.

“You look at the rates where they are now and we’re looking at the doubling of numbers every week or two,” said Paul. “That means we will quickly fill our hospital with COVID patients. That’s not where we want to go.”

Paul says the new cases from vaccinated patients are much less severe than from those who are not vaccinated.

Dr. Khadijia Tribie Reid, a pediatrician at Med North Health Center, was hesitant to get the vaccine at first, but got her shot once she realized the immediate impact it can have. She is now encouraging her patients to do the same.

“I had an option to get with the program or to not get with the program and once again I thought, ‘I know what COIVD can do, I don’t know the long-term effects of the vaccine. but I know what COVID can do right now,’ and we’re seeing it all around us. So, I got the vaccine,” said Reid.

Vaccine rates could be trending in the right direction once again. Turner says the county administered over 120 shots at a clinic on Tuesday; the average had been around 40 shots.

“What’s encouraging is — from the reports I’m getting from our staff who are working there — [is] a lot of those are first doses and that’s very encouraging,” said Turner.

New Hanover County will require everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks in all county buildings beginning Friday.

The county will host a vaccine clinic event at 6:00 p.m. Friday at Waterline Brewing. For a list of where you can get a vaccine in New Hanover County, visit the health department’s website.

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