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LUMBERTON – COVID-19 cases in Robeson County have increased by nearly a third over the past week, but no deaths from the virus have been reported for the first time in three weeks.
The Robeson County Health Department reported 159 new cases between April 17 and Friday, compared to 120 between April 10 and April 16. This brings the number of cases reported since the start of the pandemic to 16,491.
No virus-related deaths were reported by the health ministry between April 17 and Friday. After two weeks with no reported deaths between March 20 and April 2, two deaths were reported between April 3 and 9 and one between April 10 and April 16. There have been 228 virus-related deaths in Robeson County during the pandemic.
County Department of Health Director Bill Smith suggests the spike in cases could be the result of Easter and spring break activities appearing in statistics a few weeks after the holidays and school vacations.
Robeson County’s test positivity rate has remained below the 5% target for five straight weeks, although the state’s rate was 7% last week, Smith said.
As of Friday, 25,413 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were given in Robeson County, according to statistics from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and 20,568 second doses.
Governor Roy Cooper announced this week that he plans to ease restrictions on the virus on June 1, if 2/3 of the population had been vaccinated. For Robeson County to hit the 2/3 mark, nearly 90,000 people need to be vaccinated, 65,000 more than those already vaccinated, Smith said.
“While everyone’s goal is to create an unrestricted environment, this will only happen if people commit to being part of the solution,” Smith said.
Residents of white and black Robeson County have been vaccinated at a rate commensurate with their percentage of the county’s population, but American Indians are clearly lagging behind, Smith said.
“As people want to have more allowed gatherings, vaccination rates will have to improve to allow these type activities,” Smith said. “Typically, Native Americans make up more than half of the population who test positive, which reinforces the idea that they are indeed at risk. Getting vaccinated will be of great benefit to the entire county. “
The vaccine supply in Robeson County is sufficient, Smith said. Vaccines are available for all people aged 16 and over. Only Pfizer vaccine can be used in people aged 16 and 17.
UNC Health Southeastern reported 10 virus-positive patients in isolation at its hospital as of 11 a.m. Friday, with no additional potential positive results in the study. Both figures remain the same as those reported on April 16. Six employees were quarantined due to possible exposure to the virus, up from zero on April 16.
As of Friday, 11,572 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and 10,649 seconds were administered at the facilities of UNC Health Southeastern.
There are eight active cases among the student body at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke as of the end of Friday, with one active among faculty and staff, and one among contractors. Four student cases are new cases since April 16, as are cases of a single faculty / staff and contractors.
There were 50 student cases, 25 among faculty and staff, and eight among contractors during the spring semester.
Statewide, 13,239 new cases were reported by NCDHHS between April 17 and Friday, compared to 14,287 cases reported between April 10 and April 16. That brings the total for the pandemic to 956,932 cases in the state.
There were 136 virus-related deaths reported in North Carolina from April 17 through Friday, up from 139 between April 10 and April 16, bringing the total deaths from the pandemic to 12,523.
There are 1,145 virus-related hospitalizations in the state as of noon Friday, up from 1,064 on April 16.
The state is approaching the 3 million first doses of the vaccine administered, as 2,997,407 received their first dose and 2,360,962 received their second dose.
In other virus-related news, NCDHHS on Thursday announced the Bringing Summer Back vaccination campaign, which aims to encourage community organizations across the state to fully immunize as many people as possible.
In a press release, the NCDHHS said more than half of the state’s adult population is unvaccinated. Vaccinating the majority of adults in North Carolina in early summer means returning to summer activities like backyard gatherings, fireworks, outdoor festivals and parades, all without wearing a mask.
The campaign will run for two weeks in May and two weeks in June. Organizations can get involved by hosting volunteer days, distributing resources, hosting a vaccine release challenge, and getting creative.
Organizations wishing to get involved can register to participate and access the toolkit materials at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/BringSummerBack (Spanish: covid19.ncdhhs.gov/Devueltaalverano) or by email at BringingSummerBack @ dhhs .nc.gov.
For more information on COVID-19 vaccines in North Carolina, visit YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov or call the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Help Center at 888-675-4567. Appointments can be made by visiting myspot.nc.gov.