COVID cases grow, more kids getting sick
Drew C. Wilson | Times file photo
Wilson County Health Department registered nurse Scarlett Neal, left, administers a COVID-19 vaccination to Frederick Douglass Elementary School second grade teacher Beth Wood at Fike High School on March 3.
Cars are once again lining up at Wilson Immediate Care as residents seek a COVID-19 test.
Physician assistant Jim Fitch said the clinic is probably testing around 75 patients each weekday. Quite often, 12 to 15 cars are in line at a time with patients waiting their turn.
The numbers have increased since Labor Day, he said.
According to the Wilson County Health Department, Wilson is averaging 32.5 new cases of COVID-19 each day with a 11.3% positivity rate.
From Aug. 28 to Sept. 10, there were 12 COVID-related deaths here, said Jessica Williams, communications manager for the Wilson County Health Department. Decedents’ ages ranged from 52 to 94. All were unvaccinated for COVID-19, she said.
Wilson Medical Center was treating about 30 patients with COVID-19 as of Monday morning. Melanie Raynor, director of marketing and communicatios, said they are all unvaccinated.
INCREASE IN YOUTH CASES
Fitch said the majority of people being tested at the immediate care facility probably have symptoms, but only around 10% of its patients are testing positive.
The reasons for being tested vary, he said, and are not just because of COVID-19 symptoms. Some patients are traveling or going to an event and want to be sure they are not sick. Others have been identified as contacts for someone who has tested positive.
And not all patients are adults.
“Definitely we’ve seen an increase in school-age kids with exposures and symptoms,” Fitch said.
Williams said pediatric cases in the county are growing — just as they are in other parts of the country.
In the 489 Wilson County cases reported Sept. 1-9, 138, or 28.2%, of patients were ages 5-18, Williams said. For the month of August, 188 out of 1,008 patients, or 18.6%, were 5-18.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported last week that children 17 and under made up 31% of the state’s new COVID-19 cases for the week ending Sept. 4.
Last week, Wilson Preparatory Academy decided to go back to virtual learning because of the recent rise of COVID-19 cases at the school.
As of Monday morning, Wilson County Schools had 148 active COVID-19 cases involving 13 staff members and 135 students, according to Amber Lynch, public relations director. There are 673 active contacts: 27 staff members and 646 students.
Lynch said three entire classes at Frederick Douglass Elementary School have temporarily transitioned to remote learning. Two of the classes return to school Tuesday and the other on Wednesday.
Williams said the overall numbers for the county are concerning.
“Our percent of positive individuals in our county has more than doubled since Aug. 4. However, today we saw the first dip in our percent of positive since the end of July,” she said on Friday. “We are hopeful that if our vaccinations continue to increase, we will see this number continue to slow down and trend in the right direction.”
Williams said Wilson County has seen an increase in vaccinations. As of Friday, 34,359 people in the county were vaccinated, or 42% of the total population.
“We have scheduled over 400 appointments since the beginning of September at the health department,” Williams said. “In addition, there are providers all over the county doing their part to help vaccinate the citizens of Wilson County. We would love to see this percentage jump up; however, until then, we are doing all we can to inform, encourage and provide our citizens with the resources to protect themselves against COVID-19.”
Wilson Medical Center CEO Mark Holyoak urged residents to get the vaccine.
“On behalf of our team of health care heroes at Wilson Medical Center, I implore our community to take action now,” he said. “We need you just like you need us. If you have already been vaccinated, thank you. If not, please sign up to be vaccinated today, and don’t let yourself or someone you love be the next victim of COVID-19.”
On Monday morning, the phones were ringing as soon as Wilson Immediate Care opened, and Debbie Webb and other staff members were registering patients for testing as fast as they could.
“It’s a lot of people sick,” Webb said. “The volume is there.”
It’s all hands on deck with the office staff and medical staff doing whatever needs to be done to get through this latest surge.
“We’re here to help people,” Webb said, “and that’s what we’re doing.”
To get a COVID-19 test at Wilson Immediate Care on Tarboro Street, residents must register in advance by calling 252-237-2891. All testing takes place outside, with the patient in the car. Patients with COVID symptoms are also evaluated curbside, Fitch said.
To schedule a vaccine at the Wilson County Health Department, call 252-360-0500.
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