May 22—LUMBERTON — For the first time in 11 months, fewer than 100 new COVID-19 cases were reported over a one-week span in Robeson County.
The Robeson County Health Department reported 80 cases between May 15 and Friday, down from the 106 cases reported between May 8 and May 14.
The last time fewer than 100 new cases were reported in the county during a seven-day period was June 20-26, 2020, when there were 79 reported cases. Outside of that period in June, there hasn't been another week with fewer than 100 cases since April 18-24, 2020.
There have been 16,951 COVID-19 cases reported in Robeson County during the pandemic, The first case was reported 14 months ago on March 21, 2020.
There were three new virus-related deaths reported between May 15 and Friday, the same number that was reported between May 8- and May 14. This brings the county's pandemic death toll to 241.
The deaths this week were individuals over the age of 60, according to county Health Department Director Bill Smith.
"Only half (the 60-and-older) population is vaccinated, so they remain vulnerable to the virus," Smith said. "This should be taken into account when younger, unvaccinated family members want to visit. Of course, getting vaccinated ends this concern from both perspectives."
There have been 27,246 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and 24,268 second doses administered in Robeson County as of noon Friday, according to North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services statistics.
The county Health Department held a mobile vaccination event on Thursday, and these events will become normal moving forward, Smith said.
"As the crowds have greatly diminished going to fixed vaccination sites, mobile vaccinations will be offered as the norm," Smith said. "If an industry or business would like to participate, please let (the Health Department) know."
According to Smith, a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of health care workers, who were among the first two receive the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, found that vaccines were 94% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, and were 82% effective with just one dose — higher than during the study needed to authorize use of the vaccines.
Smith recommends businesses continue to encourage nonvaccinated individuals to wear face coverings, even after Gov. Roy Cooper removed masking, social distancing and maximum-capacity requirements.
"While a vaccinated person may rarely get COVID-19, it is even rarer for that person to transmit to another person," Smith said. "The take-home message is to get vaccinated and make yourself and those around you safer."
The county's testing positivity rate is over the goal of 5% for the third consecutive week, Smith said.
UNC Health Southeastern reported three virus-positive individuals in isolation at its medical center as of 11 a.m. Friday, down from six on May 14, with one potential positive under investigation. Three employees are quarantined because of potential exposure to the virus.
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke reports nine active virus cases among the student body as of late Friday, with one active case among faculty and staff, and none among subcontractors. Of these, eight student body cases were reported since May 14, with no new cases among faculty and staff or subcontractors.
For the spring semester, the university reports 79 student cases, 28 cases among faculty and staff, and eight among subcontractors.
Statewide, there were 6,416 new cases between May 15 and Friday, down from 8,840 between May 8 and May 14. North Carolina is likely to hit the 1 million case mark sometime during the next week. The total cases count as of Friday was 995,754.
There were 96 virus-related deaths reported between May 15 and Friday statewide, up from 82 reported for the period of May 8-14. There have been 12,958 total virus-related deaths in North Carolina during the pandemic.
There were 763 virus-related hospitalizations in the state as of Friday, down from 926 on May 14.
According to the NCDHHS, 3,219,557 first doses of the vaccine and 2,942,899 second doses have been administered in the state.
In other virus-related news, NCDHHS will host a live fireside chat on COVID-19 Vaccines and Rural Communities on Tuesday.
The event will be streamed from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on the NCDHHS, NC Rural Center and Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church social media accounts. It can also be accessed through a telephone town hall feature by calling 855-756-7520 and using extension 73943#.
State health agency Secretary Mandy Cohen will be joined on the panel by Patrick Woodie, president of the NC Rural Center; Bishop Paul Leeland, resident bishop of the WNCCUMC; and Kelly Calabria, president and CEO of the Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation.
This event and other live series events are part of the state's ongoing public engagement to slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensure access to timely information, resources and COVID-19 vaccines, according to a NCDHHS press release. The fireside chat also supports the state's continued efforts to better understand and address the barriers and concerns that exist within communities. Currently, more than half of adults in North Carolina are at least partially vaccinated and about 46% are fully vaccinated.
The NCDHHS also will host a fireside chat for parents and adolescents on COVID-19 vaccines on Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. This event will be streamed live across NCDHHS' Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts.