For Immediate Release
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Rowan County’s COVID-19 Level is Now High
Since the holidays, more people are now testing positive for COVID-19 across the country. The CDC recently reported that about 41% of all the COVID-19 cases were a result of a new strain of the Omicron variant, known as XBB.1.5. Experts are concerned that this new strain might even be more evasive and the most transmissive Omicron subvariant to date.
The symptoms of this new strain are being noted as being much milder than previous strains and may be misinterpreted for a mild cold, the flu, or even RSV. This may be why we are seeing our levels of transmission increasing at such fast rates. With milder symptoms, people are not associating their symptoms with having COVID-19, making them less proactive in preventing the spread of this virus.
The most common symptoms that are now being seen with XBB.1.5, along with the strains B.Q.1.1 and B.Q.1 that make up another 45% of all the COVID cases in the country, are as follows:
- sore throat
- runny nose
- blocked(stuffy) nose
- a cough with or without phlegm
- a hoarse voice
- muscle aches and pains
- an altered sense of smell
Here closer to home, North Carolina now has 68 counties that are now considered high for the level of transmission for COVID-19, including Rowan County. Here in Rowan, we are now seeing an increase in the number of cases for individuals 18 years and older, especially for those 75 and older. In December, we unfortunately also saw 4 deaths from COVID in the county. In addition to this and as of yesterday afternoon, we have 558 known, active cases, a positivity rate of 22%, and over 20 local hospital admissions due to COVID.
With this increase in transmission, Rowan County Public Health highly encourages you to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible! By doing this, you are greatly reducing your risk of hospitalization, any long-term effects from COVID, and even death. Anyone 6 months and older can now get vaccinated against this virus. In addition, anyone over 5 years of age and older can now receive a booster against COVID-19.
If you are interested in starting your COVID-19 vaccination series, and/or receiving your bivalent booster, please call Rowan County Public Health at 980-432-1800 to make an appointment. Vaccines are available for all ages and include Moderna, Pfizer, J&J, or the Novavax vaccine.
In addition to getting vaccinated, the following things can also reduce your chances of getting sick and/or passing COVID-19 to others:
- Have a supply of at-home tests on hand to help stop the spread of COVID by testing more often, especially if you have been around a positive person or if you start feeling bad. You can arrange to pick up FREE at-home tests by emailing Rowan County Public Health or by calling us at 980-432-1800. **If you have been exposed to COVID, our staff asks that you please let us know about your exposure, remain in your car, and someone will bring your at-home tests out to you.
- Wear a face mask whenever you go out in public, especially if you have underlying health conditions, you are immunocompromised, and/or if you are around someone who is.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick or has symptoms.
- Keep your distance between yourself and others.
- Eliminate large gatherings indoors. As an alternative, you should open windows and doors and/or meet outside when the weather permits you to do so.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect, on a daily-basis, high-touch surfaces. This includes doorknobs, light switches, electronics, phones, computers, remotes, toys. and countertops.
If you do test positive for COVID-19, antiviral treatments like Paxlovid and Molnupiravir are available and should be taken within the first five days in which symptoms appear. Please note that these treatments must be prescribed by a medical professional.
For those individuals without insurance and/or a medical provider, NCDHHS has recently partnered with StarMed to launch a time-limited telemedicine program. If a patient is found eligible through this service for oral antiviral treatment, StarMed can send a prescription to the patient’s chosen pharmacy or through a mail-order pharmacy. To set up an appointment visit https://starmed.care/nc or call 704-941-6000, seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
In closing, if you do become sick with COVID-19, the flu and/or RSV, we ask that you please stay at home and follow the recommended isolation guidelines for each illness. By doing this, you are not only protecting yourself from possibly getting sicker, but you are also protecting those you may come in contact with at work, school, and/or out in the community.
Download Media Release COVID-19 - January 6, 2023 (PDF)