Alamance County’s commissioners heard both good news and bad news on Monday when they received reports from two county departments that have been on the front lines of the local response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The prognosis was generally upbeat when the commissioners received a routine update on the pandemic itself from the county’s health director Tony Lo Giudice.
Lo Giudice told the county’s governing board that, as of Monday morning, the county had 398 residents with active coronavirus infections – including nine who had been hospitalized with severe complications. Lo Giudice added that, all told, the county has seen a cumulative sum of 16,673 cases and 237 deaths from COVID-19, the strain of coronavirus responsible for the ongoing pandemic.
Lo Giudice told the commissioners that, since his last update on February 15, the average number of new infections in Alamance County has fallen from 69 to 49 cases a day. He also reported that the percent of people who test positive for COVID-19 has dropped three tenths of a percentage point to 7.7 percent.
The county’s health director went on to declare that the past two weeks have seen the number of area nursing homes on the state’s list of “ongoing” outbreaks drop from 10 to 8. He nevertheless stressed that people in congregate living facilities have accounted for 25 of the 51 area residents who’ve died from the coronavirus so far in 2021.
“That’s what we’re going to watch,” he added. “Hopefully, with more folks getting vaccinated we will see a decrease in those rates.”
Lo Giudice said that, at last check, a total of 22,045 people in Alamance County had received at least one dose of the most widely administered coronavirus vaccines, which requires two doses for full inoculation. He noted that this figure accounts for about 13 percent of the county’s population and 55 percent of those 65 years old and older. He added that the proportion of elderly residents who’ve been inoculated may be on the verge of reaching “saturation.”
Lo Giudice also informed the commissioners that some 1,762 doses of the vaccine have been administered to teachers and childcare workers. He added that, over the past weekend, about 1,000 educators received shots from either the health department or another area healthcare provider that also has state certification to dispense the vaccine.
The county’s health director said that a newly-approved, single-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson may ultimately be used for mass inoculation, leaving the health department with more doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to administer.
Lo Giudice also heralded the launch of a new county website for vaccination appointments. The site is available at www.vaccinatealamance.com.
Impact on social services
Adrian Daye, the county’s social services director, gave the commissioners a more troubling update on child welfare in the coronavirus pandemic. Daye said that reports of abuse and neglect were down about 45 percent last spring because teachers and physicians had lost touch with children they’d previously seen on a regular basis.
Daye said that these reports ultimately bottomed out at 135 in May of last year. Since then, she said that the overall numbers have risen – with 208 reports of abuse and neglect in October and another 171 in December. In both cases, however, the reports fell short of the previous year’s figures of 286 for October and 226 for December of 2019.
Daye went on to inform the commissioners that the decline in reports during the months of the pandemic has coincided with an increase in the severity of the abuse and neglect that has come to her department’s attention.
“We saw a 32 percent increase in our investigative reports, and those are our most serious allegations,” she told the county’s governing board. “We also started to notice that even though the number of reports we were taking in was lower, the number of children coming into foster care remained consistent.”
Daye added that the pattern which her agency has seen in child welfare cases has also surfaced in its adult protective services. She noted that this unit has also received fewer reports of abuse and neglect as older people have had less contact with their physicians in the pandemic. In the meantime, however, the department of social services has received more requests to collect unclaimed bodies – with eight such calls coming in during the month of December alone.
See latest Alamance County COVID statistics: cases, hospitalizations, deaths: https://alamancenews.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=3622&action=edit