Vaccinations for seniors start Jan. 11; COVID numbers surge
Following is a roundup of COVID-19 related news from this past week:
• The county health department on Thursday announced that due to the three surges in COVID-19 cases in as many weeks, local data will only be available through the state’s COVID-19 dashboard. The county had provided twice weekly reports since the start of the pandemic in March. We will provide daily data as things change in the COVID-19 tab at Columbuscountynews.com. Columbus has seen more than 3,600 cases and 83 deaths from the Coronavirus. An additional 85 cases have been confirmed since Dec. 24.
• Beginning Jan. 11, anyone 75 or older who desires a COVID-19 vaccination can get one through the Columbus County Health Department . Appointments are required. Call 910-640-6615 extension 7006 starting January 7 to make your appointment.
• COVID has claimed the top two executives at Tabor Correctional. Superintendent Brad Perritt died from COVID complications earlier this month, and Assistant Superintendent Julian Priest died Christmas Eve. Assistant Warden Jamie Bullard is now in charge of the prison, which houses more than 1,400 inmates and was repeatedly cited by state officials as the prison that was hit hardest by COVID-19.
• Columbus County Health Department has started administering vaccines. The first recipients fall under phase 1a of the N.C. COVID-19 vaccination plan.
Staff are vaccinating health care workers caring for and working directly with patients with COVID-19, including support staff, health care workers who are administering vaccinations, and long-term care staff and residents of nursing facilities and group homes.
• All city and county schools will shift back to online learning only when school resumes next week. Whiteville Superintendent announced the change Monday, and Columbus County Schools posted Wednesday evening on social media that classes would be virtual. Jan. 4 will be a teacher’s workday in the county. Both systems saw new COVID-19 infections and possible exposures among teachers and students during the holidays.
• Gov. Roy Cooper has extended the moratorium on evictions through Jan. 31. Federal funding is helping pay for the program. More than $37.4 million in direct payments to landlords and utilities has already been approved through the Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions program. Only people who cannot pay their rent due to COVID-19 are eligible.
• Columbus Regional is seeing increased numbers of COVID-19 patients. While the hospital hasn’t opened a new COVID floor, Stephanie Miller of CRHS said the hospital has established additional infusion rooms for outpatient treatments that help reduce the severity of the illness. The treatments are only available to patients who meet specific criteria. Contact your primary care physician for more information.
• Anyone under 40 who leaves home without a mask and spends time around other people should consider themselves exposed to the COVID-19 virus, Sec. of Health and Human Services Mandy Cohen said Wednesday.
Speaking at Gov. Roy Cooper’s COVID-19 briefing, Cohen said the under-40 age group is among the fastest-growing demographics in the pandemic. Due to the steep rise in hospitalizations and positive tests over the Christmas weekend, officials said anyone with a compromised immune system or who is over 60 should not attend indoor gatherings of any kind where people may not be wearing masks.
Officials are expecting further increases in hospitalizations in coming days due to gatherings over the Christmas holiday.