Moore County saw 426 new cases of COVID-19 in March, the fewest reported since September.
Nearly twice as many infections were recorded in February by the Moore County Health Department. The agency confirmed a record 2,103 cases in January.
Despite the drop in cases, the positivity rate for coronavirus testing in Moore County remains higher than the statewide average, which stood at 4.4 percent on Thursday. The county’s rate was 5.8 percent.
A total of 8,411 cases have been linked to the county since the pandemic started over a year ago. At least 188 residents have died of complications from COVID-19, according to the health department.
Data from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services show that 23,657 residents, or about 23.5 percent of the county’s population, are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. An additional 7,131 residents were reported to be partially vaccinated as of Thursday.
Both the local health department and FirstHealth of the Carolinas are now offering shots to all residents who are at least 18 years old. Individuals aged 16 to 17 are also eligible for vaccination, but they must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Most counties are still vaccinating people in Groups 1 through 4B — the only groups currently eligible under the statewide guidelines set by DHHS. Moore County has jumped ahead to Group 5, a population that basically includes any resident who wants to get vaccinated. Under the state’s plan, people in Group 5 will not be universally eligible for shots until Wednesday.
The Moore County Health Department is administering the vaccine by appointment at its office and at the neighboring Agricultural Center building in Carthage. In order to receive an appointment, residents must call (910) 947-7468 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays or from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The hotline is not staffed on Mondays or weekends.
FirstHealth of the Carolinas is holding twice-a-week vaccination clinics at the Fair Barn in Pinehurst. Appointments must be scheduled online at schedule.firsthealth.org.
Pinehurst Medical Clinic, Seven Lakes Prescription Shoppe, Walgreens and Harris Teeter are all receiving limited shipments of vaccine. Individuals should call these businesses for information.
While all of the currently available vaccines are proven to be effective when it comes to preventing illness, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the two-dose products developed by Pfizer and Moderna are also 90-percent effective in preventing infections.
Earlier this week, Gov. Roy Cooper signed executive orders that extend both the statewide moratorium on evictions and the expedited processing of unemployment insurance claims until at least June 30. Another order signed by Cooper allows businesses to continue delivering mixed drinks to customers for off-site consumption until April 30.
The Moore County Board of Health, the entity that oversees the local health department, will discuss the county’s response to the virus during its monthly meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday. Members of the public can watch the meeting, which will be conducted remotely, live at webex.com using the meeting number 1295850129 and the password BOH4521.
On Tuesday, the health department is scheduled to give a coronavirus-related presentation to the Moore County Board of Commissioners. A live-stream of that meeting will begin at 10:30 a.m. here.