County and state officials push to ramp up vaccinations as concern over Delta variant grows – Salisbury Post
SALISBURY – As COVID-19 cases continue on their downward trajectory in Rowan County, vaccination rates are still lagging behind.
In the previous two weeks, Rowan County has reported 99 new cases of COVID-19, according to data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The county reported just six new positives on Tuesday. The local death toll attributed to COVID-19 remains at 311 after the death of Salisbury Police Sgt. Shane Karriker last week.
The state of North Carolina added just 362 new cases on Thursday, a significant drop from the 12,079 cases reported in one day on February 3 – the highest number reported in a 24-hour period for the pandemic.
Even with the number of COVID-19 cases declining, state and local health officials are stepping up efforts to encourage North Carolinians to get vaccinated.
About 40,653 people are fully vaccinated in Rowan County, which represents only 29% of the county’s population. About 43,966 people in the county who received at least one dose. The figures do not include people who were vaccinated at Salisbury VA, which would increase the number of people vaccinated by 5,536 to 46,189.
About 4.32 million people in North Carolina have been fully immunized.
“While our COVID-19 trends are good, we are still seeing unvaccinated people hospitalized and dying from this virus, and many struggle with long-term effects like having difficulty breathing during simple activities. This is preventable if you get a vaccine to protect yourself and your community, ”NCDHHS Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen said in a press release.
The state is working to increase vaccination rates as concern grows over the Delta variant of COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week classified Delta as a “variant of concern” because it spreads faster than other current variants of COVID-19. The variant has been particularly prevalent in the UK. The COVID-19 vaccine, said Rowan Health director Alyssa Harris, could prevent that number from growing.
“We are seeing protection against the Delta variant with our current vaccines,” said Harris. “We know COVID deaths continue in our community. More than ever, these are now in the realm of preventable disease and death because we have these vaccines to help build immunity. More variants, and perhaps worse variants, can emerge when there are people available to contract COVID and give it a chance to mutate and spread to others. “
As an added incentive to improve vaccination rates, North Carolina has set up a $ 1 million raffle to reward four randomly selected people who get vaccinated by August 4. People ages 12 to 17 who get vaccinated have a draw to win one of four $ 125,000 prizes that can be used at any post-secondary institution.
The first draw for the cash prizes will take place on June 23, with additional draws every second Wednesday through August 4. Anyone who gets their first shot before this date will have their name entered twice in the draw.
The state also offers $ 25 summer charge cards for those vaccinated and their transportation to and from the vaccination clinic. Rowan County is one of the many piloting the charge card program.
“We saw a little bump because of the $ 25 cards,” Harris said. “We continue to evaluate, but I can share that due to the success of the program, NCDHHS is considering expanding the program to other counties. Locally, we saw a jump from seven to 60 appointments in one day during the first week at one location. “
In addition to stepping up vaccination efforts, the state of North Carolina has also made it easier for people to get tested for the virus.
DHHS recently expanded the availability of its home COVID-19 test collection program. Anyone in North Carolina can now have a Labcorp-provided Pixel COVID-19 PCR Test Kit shipped overnight directly to their home, free of charge.
Test kits may be requested by those 18 years of age and older online or through community partner organizations. Parents or guardians of residents under 18 can request a kit for 2-17 year olds.
The Pixel Kit includes testing supplies, instructions, and prepaid shipping materials to make the sample return process simple and convenient. Results are usually provided within 24 to 48 hours of receipt of the sample by the laboratory. The test results can be viewed by the individual through the Pixel by Labcorp website.
The home testing program was state-piloted earlier this year and initially provided kits to North Carolinians who receive food and nutrition services and to people with disabilities. After having experienced a successful pilot experience, the program is now open to anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and to those who are symptomatic of it.
More information can be found online at www.pixel.labcorp.com/nc. Supplies may be limited.