GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Health officials in North Carolina are warning about a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases among those who are unvaccinated.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting a 66% increase in cases from this week to last week. There were 9,053 cases reported over the past seven days compared to 5,441 cases reported the seven days prior.
Officials also said hospitalizations in the state have doubled since July 8, and are the highest they have been since May 11.
“Unvaccinated North Carolinians are unnecessarily getting sick, being hospitalized and dying,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “Don’t wait to vaccinate. And if you haven’t gotten your shot, you need to wear a mask indoors at all times when you are in public spaces.”
More than 94% of recent North Carolina cases are in people who are not fully vaccinated, according to NCDHHS.
In addition to the rise in cases in the state, the County Alert System now has one red county, Richmond County with critical viral spread; and 12 orange counties with substantial spread, including Cleveland County.
Officials said 60% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 57% are fully vaccinated.
Health officials are urging those who have been not been vaccinated to get the COVID-19 vaccine. For more information on the vaccine and to find a provider in your area, click here.
Officials warn of rapid increase in COVID cases as Delta variant spreads in Gaston County
After more than a month of decreasing COVID-19 cases in Gaston County, health officials are now seeing an increase in cases and hospitalizations as the Delta variant begins to spread in the community.
“The Delta variant is much more infectious and transmissible than the original strain,” Gaston County Public Health Medical Director Dr. Tia Robertson said. “The viral load builds up quickly, making it more contagious earlier on in the course of the disease.”
Robertson is urging anyone who has COVID-19-like symptoms to get tested, particularly if they are unvaccinated.
Some symptoms of the Delta variant may be more likely than others, with a loss of taste and smell less common than headaches, runny noses and sore throats, according to data from studies conducted in Great Britain.
“More than a year after trials began for COVID vaccinations, we have yet to see significant adverse reactions,” Gaston County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tom Keigher said. “I respect folks’ decisions to not take the vaccine, but I do think there should be more consideration for others. We very well could end up back to where we’re wearing masks again if we don’t put an end to this while we have the chance.”
Health officials said the percent positive has not surpassed 5% for the first time since early May. The number of residents hospitalized has also increased into the double digits for the first time in nearly two months.
Officials said the average age of those hospitalized has been trending in younger people.
“This is our chance to let people know who have been on the fence about this: Get your vaccine,” Eaton said. “It is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from this deadly disease.”
Officials said 36% of residents in Gaston County are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Health officials are continuing to encourage those who have not been vaccinated to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Gaston County’s Public Health Department allows for walk-in vaccinations Monday-Friday, and a full list of COVID-19 vaccine providers can be found here.
(Watch Below: ‘Delta is emerging’: New COVID-19 cases in NC reach 2-month high)
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