Robeson County continues to see declining COVID-19 numbers

Staff report




LUMBERTON — As vaccinations continue to become available to more of the population and the number of coronavirus cases in Robeson County continues to drop, as it has over the past few weeks.

Between Feb. 27 and Friday, 154 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Robeson County by the county Health Department, down from the 199 cases reported between Feb. 20 and Feb. 26. This brings the pandemic cases total to 15,634.

Three virus-reported deaths were reported between Feb. 27 and Friday, with none since Wednesday. The pandemic death toll in Robeson County is 221.

Robeson County’s positivity rate is down to 5.3%. County Health Department Director Bill Smith said the volume of testing in the county is less than half what it was six weeks ago.

These figures come as Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of North Carolina’s first confirmed case.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports 15,462 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in Robeson County as of Friday, including 2,212 since Feb. 27, the most in a seven-day period since the period Jan. 23-29. There have been 9,084 second doses administered, including 853 since Feb. 27.

Of those, UNC Health Southeastern has administered 8,716 first doses and 5,460 second doses as of 11 a.m. Friday, the health care system reported.

Vaccination sites in Robeson County are serving all populations within the designated Groups 1, 2, and 3, Smith said.

“With the inclusion of the rest of Group 3 — frontline essential employees — for vaccinations, it means another 2.4 million North Carolinians are eligible for the vaccinations,” Smith said. “Locally, the vaccine supply is the highest it has been at any point. While many of the smaller providers only take appointments, larger operations oftentimes allow for walk-ins. After three weeks, Group 4 will start. This group includes people with medical conditions and the incarcerated. As a word of note, if Robeson County does not use all of its vaccine, future doses may be shifted to other counties.”

Essential frontline workers are generally considered as the population that worked throughout the pandemic and did not work from home, Smith said. This includes workers in restaurants; repairs; construction; manufacturing; growing or raising food; processing plants; stores that sell food or medicine; HVAC/plumbing; providing water, power or sanitation; university settings and schools.

On Monday, UNC Health Southeastern’s COVID-19 testing site will move to UNC Health Southeastern’s laboratory drive-thru on Barker Street and will change its operating hours to Mondays through Fridays from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Results are available through MyChart. Patients who would like to sign up for MyChart can contact Carlotta Winston at 910-734-3657. The site can provide printed results as needed.

UNC Health Southeastern reported 10 virus-positive patients in isolation at its hospital as of 11 a.m. Friday, down from 13 on Feb. 27 and the lowest number since August. There are no additional potential positives under investigation. Three employees are quarantined because of potential exposure.

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke reported three active cases among its student body as of late Friday, with one active case among faculty and staff, and one among subcontractors.

There have been two new cases among students and one among subcontractors since Feb. 27. For the semester, the university reports 33 student cases, 23 among faculty and staff, and six among subcontractors.

Statewide, there were 14,244 new cases reported by NCDHHS between Feb. 27 and noon Friday, down from the 19,255 reported from Feb. 20 to Feb. 26. There have been 870,149 total cases in North Carolina during the pandemic.

There were 260 virus-related deaths reported in the state from Feb. 27 until Friday, down from 366 reported from Feb. 20 to Feb. 26. There have been 11,446 deaths in the state since the pandemic began.

As of Friday, there were 1,226 virus-related hospitalizations in the state, down from 1,465 on Feb. 26.

There had been 1,568,110 first doses of the vaccine and 938,869 second doses administered in North Carolina as of Friday.

In the latest update of the state’s County Alert System on Thursday, Robeson County remains classified as a yellow county, for significant community spread. Of surrounding counties, Bladen County is yellow and Scotland, Hoke, Cumberland and Columbus counties are orange, for substantial community spread.

Thursday’s report shows just six counties in the state categorized as red, for critical community spread, the lowest number of red counties since the County Alert System was established in November. There are 34 counties categorized as orange and 60 as yellow.

“North Carolinians are pulling together to slow the spread of the virus by getting vaccinated and keeping up the 3Ws,” NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said. “While we are pleased with the improving trends, there is still more work to do to protect each other.”

North Carolina’s key metrics continue to move in a positive direction, with decreasing trends in numbers of COVID-19 cases reported each day, people being hospitalized with COVID-19, people in the intensive care unit and the percent of tests that are positive, according to an NCDHHS press release. The department also announced Thursday case rates are down more than 15-fold in long-term care facility settings.

The NCDHHS also is now expecting K-12 schools to open for in-person instruction for students to the fullest extent possible.