WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County Public Health officials say they are seeing a surge of daily COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.
According to the county, 1,158 new cases have been reported over the last two weeks while the health department has been informed of 14 deaths of county residents connected to COVID-19 since Dec. 23.
“The 14 individuals who died were all at risk of severe illness because of age (ranging in age from 60 to 90 years old), underlying health conditions or both. This brings the total number of New Hanover County residents who have died from COVID-19 to 91,” the county stated in a news release.
Of the New Hanover residents who have died from COVID-19, 85.7 percent were 65 or older, 12.1 percent were between 50 and 64 and 2.2 percent were between 25 and 49 years of age.
“The most vulnerable to this virus are our seniors, and that is clearly seen in the ages who have passed away,” said Assistant Health Director Carla Turner. “We have to do all we can to protect this high-risk population, and at Public Health, we have already started our work in vaccinating this population who are in long-term care facilities. We hope to begin vaccinating even more of our older adults with chronic conditions in the coming weeks as we transition forward in the vaccination plan – but we aren’t quite there yet.”
New Hanover County Public Health says it has administered more than 1,300 doses of the Moderna Inc. vaccine since receiving its first shipment on Dec. 22.
In the first phase of the vaccine rollout, the doses are being given to health care workers caring for COVID-19 patients, those working on the vaccine rollout, other healthcare workers in high exposure settings, and staff and residents of long term care facilities.
“The four phases of the COVID-19 vaccine plan outline priority populations based on risk of exposure and risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19, and right now we are in the very early stages of this plan,” said New Hanover County Health and Human Services Director Donna Fayko. “We are reaching out directly to organizations whose personnel are eligible to be vaccinated in Phase 1a. As we transition to other phases and more of our community is eligible for the vaccine, we will continue our outreach and share that information, along with where to get vaccinated.
“We have to be focused in our approach based on the amount of vaccine we have, and can’t open it up yet past phase 1a. So we ask everyone for their patience as we work through these prioritizations, which are in line with the state’s phases — and just know that we will eventually get a vaccine to everyone who wants one.”
Full execution of the COVID-19 vaccine plan is expected to take up to nine months, health officials said.