NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County Public Health officials were informed of ten additional deaths of residents from COVID-19 this week, bringing the total number of county residents who have died from COVID-19 to 112.
The ten individuals who died were in their 80’s and 90’s and at risk of severe illness because of age and underlying health conditions.
To date, there have been a total 12,013 cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County, an increase of 620 cases in the past week. Of those, there are around 2,329 people currently infected with the virus. View additional data on cases and case trends at Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus.
“We have consistently been seeing more than 100 new COVID cases reported each day to Public Health over the past few weeks, and that is incredibly concerning,” said Public Health Assistant Director Carla Turner, RN, MSHCA. “I think we all have COVID fatigue, and that is leading some people to relax the protective measures we have been encouraging for the past 10 months, but now isn’t the time to do that. We have several more months left before enough people are vaccinated and we can begin to relax our precautions – so please continue to wear your mask and avoid gatherings.”
The individuals currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in New Hanover County include healthcare workers and adults over 65, which is in line with the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan. Within these groups, New Hanover County Public Health has vaccinated around 9,700 people in the community with their first dose, and has administered nearly all of its vaccine supply on hand. In addition, New Hanover Regional Medical Center and Wilmington Health have been able to assist in vaccinating thousands more in the community.
“The county is committed to get all of the vaccines we receive from the state into arms within seven days of receipt,” said Health and Human Services Director Donna Fayko. “And often times, we are doing it even faster than seven days, thanks to our incredible staff’s efforts and the partnerships we have with the hospital, Wilmington Health, and others to increase our efficiency and efforts. We are seeing a high demand for the vaccine, which is great; but we can only move as fast as our vaccine supply from the state allows. So we ask for the community’s patience. We will get to everyone who wants a vaccine – but it is going to take time.”
This week, New Hanover County Public Health also began administering second doses of the vaccine, and will have a full-scale second-dose vaccination effort next week – vaccinating around 4,800 individuals with their second dose of either Pfizer (21 days after first dose) or Moderna (28 days after first dose). Given this large-scale second dose effort next week, the county will not be offering first-dose appointments over the coming week and will instead be transferring its first-dose vaccine supply of 1950 doses from the state to NHRMC and Wilmington Health to schedule vaccine appointments for those who are eligible in the community.
Information about how to access appointments through these healthcare partners next week is below (note: appointments will be announced and opened by each entity as they receive vaccine supply confirmations):
“New Hanover County Public Health has worked diligently to make the vaccination process as easy and efficient as possible – ramping up staffing and resources, working with partners, and continuously improving processes,” said Fayko. “We are also in the process of finalizing an online scheduling system that will be launched the first week of February, when we open up additional first-dose appointments, which will make it even easier for people to book appointments. We will still be limited in the number of appointments we can offer, based on the supply we have, but we believe this will be a good improvement for the customer experience, coupled with our dedicated call center that will continue to take appointments.”
New Hanover County is also focusing on specific outreach to historically marginalized communities, communities of color, indigenous people groups, older adults who are home-bound, those facing homelessness, and others. The county’s Office of Diversity and Equity has led these efforts, working with community partners to call people directly and schedule them for vaccinations at targeted outreach sites. More than 600 people in the community were vaccinated through these outreach efforts just this week, and this effort will continue in the months to come. In addition, the county is partnering with MedNorth and Cape Fear Clinic to provide vaccine and assist their efforts to reach eligible patients as well.
More information on the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, and a current status of what phase New Hanover County is in, can be found 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.