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717 new COVID-19 cases reported over weekend in Forsyth County.
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717 new COVID-19 cases reported over weekend in Forsyth County.

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Forsyth County reported five deaths and 717 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend, the N.C. Department of Health and Human services said Monday.

Since the pandemic began, Forsyth has had 45,776 cases and 479 COVID-19-related deaths.

Over the past three weeks, the county has reported 5,029 new cases and 40 deaths.

DHHS said Monday’s report was affected by a technical issue that underreported some key COVID-19 metrics last week.

Because DHHS no longer updates its COVID-19 dashboard on weekends, Monday’s report includes data from Friday, along with the data collected for Saturday and Sunday.

DHHS listed the state with having 5,877 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, 11,337 cases Friday, 7,207 on Saturday and 5,346 on Sunday.

Friday’s new case count was the third highest total for the pandemic.

The highest new case count is the 12,079 reported on Feb. 3. DHHS has attributed that surge in statewide cases to belated reporting by FastMed Urgent Care.

The number of children infected has also grown. Since the middle of August, when schools reopened, children and teens under the age of 17 have gone from representing 20% of new cases in Forsyth to 29%.

Statewide, about 33% of new cases statewide are in that age range.

Forsyth health director Joshua Swift says most COVID-19 cases are being brought into K-12 schools and then circulating among students. Public health officials have pointed to extracurricular school activities, such as sports, and students gathering off-campus, as key factors.

Dr. Christopher Ohl, an infectious disease specialist with Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, said last week that it remains unclear whether the delta variant is more contagious in children. He said the longer it takes to figure it out, the less likely that it is a factor.

Swift said it will take another week or so to determine “whether we’ll have a bump” in local cases as a result of the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Statewide

Across North Carolina, there have been 1.3 million COVID-19 cases and 15,247 deaths since the pandemic began, up 172 from Friday’s report.

In recent weeks, local and state health officials have said more than 90% of all COVID-19-related hospitalizations are among unvaccinated people or vaccinated people who have health conditions that put them at risk

As recently as July 6, statewide hospitalizations were as low as 231.

As of noon Monday, DHHS listed 3,514 COVID-19-related hospitalizations statewide, down 242 from Friday’s report.

The all-time high for COVID-19 hospitalizations was 3,990 on Jan. 14 — when the vaccine was available publicly on a limited basis.

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The 17-county Triad and Northwest N.C. region has a combined 856 COVID-19 patients, down 66 from Friday.

As of noon Monday, North Carolina had 894 adults in the ICU with COVID-19. The Aug. 30 count of 941 was the highest that total has ever been.

Statewide, 632 patients were on ventilators, down 17 from the 649 reported Thursday, which represents an all-time high.

Vaccinations

DHHS says 62% of adult North Carolinians are fully vaccinated.

When including 12- to 17-year-olds, 60% of North Carolinians are fully vaccinated statewide.

About 4.98 million North Carolinians have gotten two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, while 404,353 have gotten the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

As of noon Monday, 216,041 Forsyth residents were at least partially vaccinated, or 57% of all residents. That includes 199,019 residents — or 52% of all residents — who are fully vaccinated.

By comparison, Guilford County is at 54% fully vaccinated, Durham County at 61%, Wake County at 63% and Mecklenburg County at 54%.

The latest statewide positive test rate was 11.8%, based on 62,265 tests conducted Saturday.

For Forsyth, the most recent positive test rate was 13.2%. DHHS no longer provide daily testing total at the county level.

Forsyth health director Joshua Swift discusses booster shots, gift cards

The Forsyth health department is still offering a set of $25 gift cards to people getting their first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The vaccination gift card offer was scheduled to end Monday.

However, assistant county manager Shontell Robinson said the offer will continues until supplies run out.

“A new state incentive program is expected to follow,” Robinson said.

DHHS spokeswoman Catie Armstrong said that “providers with leftover cards on-hand are able to distribute them over the next two weeks.”

“DHHS will continue to implement new strategies to help people get vaccinated,” Armstrong said.

The gift cards are available only to people 18 and older getting their first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Non-commercial drivers who take someone to receive their first dose also are eligible for a $25 gift card. Drivers will receive one cash card per trip.

Each individual’s COVID vaccination history will be checked before the shot is administered or the cash card is given.

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@rcraverWSJ

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