NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County Public Health has been informed of 14 deaths of residents from COVID-19 since November 14, and with daily case numbers rising, local health officials urge continued protective measures as plans for vaccination distribution take shape.
The 14 individuals who died in the last three weeks were all at risk of severe illness because of age, ranging from 70 to 90 years old, underlying health conditions or both. This brings the total number of New Hanover County residents who have died from COVID-19 to 61. Of the New Hanover County residents who have died from COVID-19, 85 percent were 65 or older, 12 percent were between 50 and 64 and three percent were between 25 and 49 years of age.
“We are seeing a stark increase in COVID-19 in our community, and yesterday as the state announced its highest daily case count, we also saw our highest daily case count locally with 107 new COVID-19 cases reported in New Hanover County,” said New Hanover County Assistant Health Director Carla Turner, RN, MSHCA. “Case investigations show that social gatherings and outings where protective measures like face coverings and social distancing are not being followed are a major contributor to the more prevalent spread of the virus in our community. And, it’s the transmission in the community that puts our more vulnerable neighbors in nursing homes and congregate living at higher risk, as well as introduces the virus to school and child care settings. We again urge our residents to remain diligent with face coverings, social distancing and hand washing. It’s about protecting not only yourself and your family, but those you don’t know whom your actions still effect during the pandemic.”
Last week, state officials announced the expected receipt of COVID-19 vaccinations in the coming weeks. County officials are collaborating with state and hospital partners to implement a COVID-19 vaccination plan that has been in the development stages since September. The plan includes four phases of distribution, the first including frontline healthcare workers and residents of nursing and long-term care homes to protect those at highest risk of exposure and severe illness.
“We are working through every facet of our plan, from storage and staffing to facilities and traffic flow,” said New Hanover County Public Health Preparedness Coordinator Diana Vetter Craft. “As vaccines are approved for emergency use authorization by the FDA, we will leverage everything we have to share information about vaccines, what phase of distribution we’re in, and how to access a vaccine here in our community.”
Full implementation of the plan is expected to take up to nine months, so continuing protective measures and the three Ws (wearing a face covering, waiting six feet from others and washing your hands) will remain imperative to safely continue reopening and increasing economic and social activity. Residents can learn more about COVID-19 vaccination planning and the four phases of distribution locally at Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus.
To view the most recent case count data, information, updates and resources in New Hanover County, visit Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus, call our Public Health Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800, and follow the county’s trusted social media pages: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor.