Catawba County set new record highs for new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on Wednesday.
Catawba County Public Health reported 1,390 new COVID-19 cases in the past week. The new cases beat a previous high of 1,377 set two weeks earlier. There have been 32,280 COVID-19 cases reported in Catawba County residents.
The county also has the most county residents hospitalized with the virus ever reported, according to public health’s data. As of Wednesday, 137 Catawba County residents were hospitalized with COVID-19. The previous record was 122 residents, set in January 2021 and before vaccines were widely available.
Catawba Valley Medical Center had 78 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Wednesday, according to the hospital’s daily update. Of those patients, 56 were unvaccinated.
The hospital reported that 19 of those patients were in the ICU, 15 of whom were unvaccinated. Of the ICU patients, 14 are on ventilators.
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Four new COVID-19-related deaths were reported Wednesday. The new deaths bring Catawba County’s total to 492 since the pandemic began.
About 56% of Catawba County’s population — 88,587 people — has been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Of those people, 37,016 have received a booster or additional dose.
Statewide, there have been 2,323,482 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. As of Wednesday, the state reported a new high for coronavirus hospitalizations, with 5,090 people hospitalized with the virus.
North Carolina reached 20,440 COVID-related deaths, according to NCDHHS.
Health department offering masks
Catawba County Public Health received several thousand N95 masks to give to people who are most at risk from COVID-19.
The shipment of masks came from the state a week ago and is different from the N95 masks the federal government plans to offer for free, Catawba County Public Health Community Engagement Specialist Emily Killian said.
The masks public health has are free to people who come to the front desk of the public health building at 3070 11th Avenue Drive SE.
“These masks are intended for people at highest risk, people who live or work in high-risk settings and people who may have difficulties getting them elsewhere,” Killian said.
Public health is giving four masks to each person and providing instructions on how to wear the masks. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says N95 respirators provide the highest level of protection against COVID-19.
“Masking is just one of the tools in our prevention toolbox and is best used as part of a layered prevention approach,” Killian said. “Masking, when used alongside vaccination and boosters, social distancing and handwashing, helps prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Pharmacies and COVID-19 vaccine sites may soon receive N95 masks from the federal government to provide to the public for free, Killian said. Those pharmacies include CVS, Publix, Walgreens and Walmart, according to the CDC.
There is no clear date when those pharmacies might get the masks, Killian said.