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Gov. Cooper: Virus cases trending down, but the fight isn't over
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Gov. Cooper: Virus cases trending down, but the fight isn't over

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N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper held a COVID-19 briefing Wednesday, saying the good news is that virus numbers have been trending downward.

But Cooper said NC’s fight against the virus is not over.

He said as positive cases continue to decline, people are eating in restaurants again, going to ballgames and many are back at work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N_hNp6qmJk

The state’s daily percent positive rate is at 5.3%, with 2,160 new cases and 1,406 hospitalizations reported Wednesday.

Burke County has seen its active virus cases decrease recently, with the COVID-19 dashboard showing 271 active cases on Wednesday.

UNC Health Blue Ridge showed 13 people hospitalized due to the virus Wednesday, with six of them, all unvaccinated, in the intensive care unit. Of those patients, three were on ventilators. The health care system’s COVID-19 virtual hospital had 46 patients on Wednesday.

The Burke County Health Department has reported a total of 267 deaths due to the virus.

“We felt a renewed sense of hope over the last month as North Carolina’s COVID-19 numbers have continued their steady improvement,” Cooper said during the briefing. “You, the people of North Carolina who’ve gotten vaccinated and followed community safety standards, deserve the lion’s share of the credit, along with our health care professionals.”

He said with cases declining, people are eating at restaurants and going to concerts and ballgames and traveling again. And most people are back at work, although many are doing it in a different way or at a different job, he said.

“There’s significant burnout among health care workers, which is causing a strain,” Cooper said. “The best way to help them is to get vaccinated, as a vast majority of the sickest COVID patients continue to be unvaccinated people.”

Cooper added that children as young as 5 years old will soon be able to be vaccinated. Once the vaccines for children are authorized, the state will make sure vaccines are available throughout, including at pediatricians’ offices.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said an independent advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration unanimously recommended the use of Pfizer’s vaccine in children 5 to 11 years old. Now, the FDA and CDC will complete a thorough review of this process to make sure that the vaccines are safe and effective for children, she aid.

The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for those 12 years old and older. Cohen said only 42% of those 12 to 17 years old in the state have been vaccinated. She encouraged those who haven’t been vaccinated to seek out reliable information about the vaccines.

Cohen said every unvaccinated person is another foothold for the virus.

So far in Burke County, 52% (41,701) of those 12 years old and older have been at least partially vaccinated, and 49% (39,292) have been fully vaccinated, according to information from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Booster shots are currently available for people who received their second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months ago. Booster shots are for people who are 65 and over, have a high-risk medical condition, work in higher risk settings or live or work in a place where many people work together, NCDHHS said.

The Burke County Health Department is offering Pfizer booster doses to the recommended populations. The booster doses are for:

People 65 years of age and older and residents in long-term care settings

People 18-64 who have underlying health conditions that could increase their risk for severe COVID-19 or who work or live in a facility where they are at an increased risk for exposure to COVID-19 or come in contact with individuals whose vaccination status is unknown.

First responders, education staff, food and agricultural workers, manufacturing workers, correction workers, U.S Postal Service workers, public transit workers and grocery store workers.

The health department is administering COVID-19 vaccines every Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Anyone interested in a booster shot who falls in one of the recommended categories can call the health department’s main line at 828-764-9150 to schedule an appointment, or visit myspot.nc.gov to find other vaccine locations.

The state’s list of outbreaks and clusters at schools, day cares and congregate living facilities was updated Tuesday.

Since last week, the state removed Table Rock Middle School I from the list of clusters. The school had a total of seven students infected.

The following outbreaks in Burke County remain ongoing, according to NCDHHS:

George Hildebrand Elementary School remains on the list with seven students infected.

Ray Childers Elementary School remains at five students infected.

Heritage Middle School remains on the list with a cluster of 12 students and a staff member infected.

Table Rock Middle School II remains at a cluster of 12 students and two staff members infected.

Burke Long Term Care in Morganton remains at a total of six residents infected with the virus.

Autumn Care of Drexel has a total of 20 people infected, with 16 staff members and four residents infected.

Carolina Rehab of Burke in Icard remained at one resident death and six residents infected with the virus.

Grace Ridge remains at one staff member and five residents infected with the virus.

Cambridge House in Hildebran remains at one staff member and 10 residents infected.

Grace Heights Health and Rehabilitation in Morganton remains at six total cases, with two cases in residents and four staff members infected.

College Pines Health and Rehabilitation in Rutherford College saw its virus cases remain at 36, with 17 cases in staff members and 19 cases in residents and one resident death.

J. Iverson Riddle Development Center in Morganton remained at a total of 80 cases, with 73 staff members and seven residents infected with the virus.

For general questions about COVID-19, call the Burke County Public Information line at 828-764-9150 or visit the COVID-19 webpage at burkenc.org/COVID-19.

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