Pandemic Operations Team adds epidemiologist to monitor viral data and trends

Posted April 8, 2022 at 11:10 am     Category: News ReleasePublic Health

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – The New Hanover County Pandemic Operations Team is welcoming a new member to enhance its response to COVID-19 and other viral diseases. Kansas native Ian Appling began his role as the county’s first epidemiologist earlier this week.  

“Ian brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the public health world that will be critical in helping us navigate where things stand now with COVID and any future community or global outbreaks,” said Pandemic Operations Manager Jon Campbell. “He has a lengthy background in global health initiatives and will work to collect data and analyze trends that will help our team develop strategies to reduce the impact of diseases here in New Hanover County.” 

Prior to taking the job in New Hanover County, Appling worked as an epidemiologist with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. He received his undergraduate degree from Kansas and his Master’s in Public Health from Southern Mississippi. As part of his public and global health background, Appling helped develop and operate a women’s health clinic in India focused on cervical cancer screenings. He also served as a Navy sonar technician for four years.  

Established by the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners in December 2022 through American Rescue Plan Funding, the Pandemic Operations Team has worked to provide vaccination and testing resources to the community, as well as outreach and education on COVID-19. This work will continue, so the community can be prepared as additional variants surface and have access to the best tools and resources to stay safe and healthy. 

Vaccines, boosters available at Pandemic Operations Center 

Appointments to receive a vaccine or booster at the Pandemic Operations Center (1507 Greenfield Street) are recommended but not required and can be made by visiting TakeMyShot.NC.gov. Vaccines and boosters will be available during the following days and times: 

  • Mondays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 
  • Tuesdays from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. 
  • Thursdays from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. 
  • Fridays from 1-5 p.m. 

Since second booster doses became available last week, the Pandemic Operations Team has administered more than 800 additional boosters to immunocompromised residents over the age of 12 or any individual 50 and older. Second boosters of either Pfizer or Moderna can be given four months after an initial booster dose.     

Additionally, no cost rapid testing is also available at the Pandemic Operations Center. An appointment can be made by visiting this link but it is not required. Rapid tests will be available during the following days and times: 

  • Wednesdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 
  • Fridays from 9 m.-noon 

For more information on the Pandemic Operations Center, vaccines, boosters or testing, visit Health.NHCGov.com/Coronavirusor call the Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800. 

Low COVID-19 Community Level 

Following its weekly review of county-specific data, the CDC has kept New Hanover County at a low COVID-19 community level. Recommended precautions for this level include being fully vaccinated and boosted, and testing for COVID if you develop symptoms. Mask usage at this community level is optional. The CDC plans to update community levels weekly, so residents can check the CDC website here to know the current community impact level. 

COVID-19 Community Data, as of April 8:       

  • New Hanover County’s percent positivity over the past 14 days is 3 percent (this represents positive Molecular (PCR) tests as a percent of total PCR tests performed countywide). 
  • Over the past 14 days, 150 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the county which is an average of 10.7 cases per day. 
  • According to Novant Health NHRMC, as of April 4, the average daily number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized over the previous week was 4. 
  • Approximately 148,441 residents (about 63 percent) have been vaccinated with two doses or one dose of J&J, and 81,019 residents (about 34.6 percent) have been vaccinated with one booster or an additional dose. 

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