Alamance County’s new health director had more than just warm greetings to extend when he made his debut appearance before the county’s board of commissioners this week.
Tony Lo Giudice, who took over the county’s health department on November 30, shared some auspicious news about the development of a coronavirus vaccine when he approached the county’s governing board for the first time during a regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday (Dec. 7).
Lo Giudice told the commissioners that the FDA could approve one vaccine from the pharmaceutical giants Pfizer on Thursday [UPDATE: as of Saturday, the Pfizer vaccine had been approved by the FDA for use] and may grant its imprimatur to another that Moderna has had in development a week later. He added that state officials hope to have the first batch of inoculations in hand sometime next week assuming that everything goes off without a hitch at the federal level.
“They’re expecting around 85,000 doses [for the entire state],” he added. “Those first doses will likely be sent to the hospitals so they can start inoculating healthcare workers…and it will be a couple of weeks before we start getting them for the health department.”
The county’s new health director wasn’t able to paint nearly as rosy a picture when he addressed the current state of coronavirus infections in Alamance County. Lo Giudice acknowledged that, as of Monday morning, the county had 931 active cases of COVID-19, the strain of coronavirus that’s responsible for the ongoing pandemic. He noted that the county had added 171 of these cases within the past 24 hours.
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Lo Giudice attributed many of these new cases to small social gatherings, religious services, and workplace exposure. He also reported outbreaks of two or more cases at five area nursing homes, four long-term care facilities, and one homeless shelter, as well as “clusters” of at least five infections at one elementary school and one daycare center. Lo Giudice also cautioned that the county has seen a steady increase in positive test results, which rose from 9.6 to 10.8 percent of the total tests administered during the last full week of November.
[Editor’s Note: according to statewide news reports, also from Monday, the first N.C. hospitals to be getting the vaccine will be those (11 were named) with refrigeration capacity sufficient to store the vials received. Neither ARMC nor Cone Health in Greensboro was listed among the initial recipients.]