County Alert 1-6-21 update

KENANSVILLE — Over the past week, North Carolina moved into Phase 1b, Group 1 for COVID-19 vaccinations, which means all individuals 75 years of age or older can now receive the vaccine.

To help get the vaccine to those who need it, the Duplin County Health Department is hosting a drive-thru vaccination event today, Jan. 14, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Duplin Events Center, 195 Agriculture Drive in Kenansville. Neither pre-registration nor appointments are required, but vaccines will be administered on a first-come, first-served basis.

More COVID-19 vaccination events are in the works, and will be announced as more vaccines are delivered to the county.

Vidant Health is also working to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccine safely and effectively reaches the community.

Vidant Health began vaccinating individuals 75 and older on Friday, Jan. 8.

“Vidant continues to identify and directly contact eligible high-risk individuals through community partners, as well as its patient database MyChart, in the initial launch of Phase 1b, group 1,” the health system stated in a press release issued on Monday morning. “This initial approach is only the first step in making the vaccine more broadly available to eligible community members. Though the first wave of community vaccines are being administered in Greenville, Vidant will announce its plans to expand its efforts to vaccinate high-risk individuals throughout the East in the coming weeks.”

As a reminder, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provides allocations to local health departments and health systems with requirements to vaccinate eligible groups per its COVID-19 vaccine plan. The amount Vidant receives will determine the number of individuals that can be vaccinated.

“Vidant has full confidence in the vaccines,” the press release goes on to say. “Before receiving FDA emergency use authorization approval, the COVID-19 vaccines went through rigorous testing and trials to prove they are safe and effective prior to distribution.”

For updates on Vidant’s community vaccine efforts, please visit VidantHealth.com/Vaccinate. For the latest drive-thru COVID-19 testing and vaccination events, check the Duplin Times Facebook page.

Duplin still among red counties for critical spread

Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen shared an update last Wednesday afternoon on North Carolina’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and support the vaccination effort currently underway.

Governor Cooper extended North Carolina’s Modified Stay At Home Order, which requires people to be at home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., through at least Friday, January 29. Secretary Cohen also issued a Secretarial Directive with stark warnings for North Carolinians to avoid indoor spaces without masks and gatherings between households.

“We have turned the page on a new year — one that we’re hoping will bring better times. But as we know, the virus didn’t disappear at midnight on Dec. 31,” Governor Cooper said. “In fact, in North Carolina, we have seen some of our highest case counts, percent positives, hospitalizations and ICU bed usage numbers in the past few days. No matter where you live, work, worship or play, COVID-19 remains a deadly threat, and we must treat it that way.”

“We are in a very dangerous position. North Carolinians need to take immediate actions to save lives, slow the spread of the virus, and protect hospital capacity so that medical care is available to anyone who may need it, whether for COVID-19 or for any other reason,” said Dr. Cohen.

Cohen also stated that emergency room visits are at their highest levels since the pandemic began, with positivity rates also now above 16 percent.

Almost the entire state is now in the red on the County Alert System, with 96 counties having critical (red) or substantial (orange) spread of the virus, including Duplin.

Cohen reiterated the three W’s: wear a mask, wait 6 feet apart and wash your hands frequently.

To learn more about the Secretarial Directive, visit https://files.nc.gov/.../NCDHHS-Secretarial-Directive....

The updated County Alert System Map can be found here: https://files.nc.gov/.../COVID-19-County-Alert-System...

Abby Cavenaugh may be reached at acavenaugh@ncweeklies.com or 910-296-0239.