covid19 microscope

An image from an electron microscope shows SARS-CoV-2 (orange), the respiratory virus that causes COVID-19, emerging from the surface of cells (green) cultured in a lab.

The Moore County Health Department recorded two new coronavirus-related deaths on Friday, bringing the pandemic's local toll to 192.

Matt Garner, public information officer for the department, said the deceased individuals were both women in the "50-64 age range." They both died on Wednesday, he said.

About 2 percent of all COVID-19 cases confirmed in Moore County have resulted in death.

Cluster Identified

A cluster of coronavirus infections was recently identified at Union Pines High School.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday reported that at least nine students and a staff member at the school had tested positive for COVID-19. A cluster is defined by the agency as five or more cases in a school or childcare setting.

Over 80 students at Union Pines have tested positive for COVID-19 since Aug. 19, more than any other school in the district with the exception of Pinecrest High. There have been 714 cases involving students and faculty members in Moore County schools, accounting for about 8 percent of the county’s total infections.

The school system reported that 192 students across the district were under quarantine on Thursday “due to exposure” to COVID-19.

Ongoing clusters are also being monitored at Southern Middle School in Aberdeen and at Helen’s Daycare in Carthage. A cluster is considered to be concluded after a facility goes 28 days with no evidence of continued transmission.

Spread Slowing

For the first time in over a year, Moore County recently went a full day with no new cases of COVID-19.

Data from the local health department showed that no new infections were recorded in the county on Tuesday. Garner said that hasn’t happened since April 2020.

(While the cluster at Union Pines High School was first announced Tuesday, the infections were reported earlier in the week.)

The spread of the coronavirus has slowed considerably in recent months. Of the 8,929 cases recorded in Moore County since the start of the pandemic, only 161 infections, or about 1.8 percent, have been added in May.

The positivity rate for coronavirus testing in Moore County stood at 4.6 percent on Friday, higher than the statewide average of 3.4 percent.

Clinic Scheduled

FirstHealth of the Carolinas will hold a mass-vaccination clinic on Wednesday at the Fair Barn in Pinehurst.

The company said anyone aged 12 and older can receive the first dose of Pfizer’s two-shot vaccine during the clinic, though participants younger than 18 must be accompanied by their parent or legal guardian. Appointments can be scheduled online at FirstHealth.org/shot or by calling 910-715-SHOT.

“COVID-19 vaccines remain a key part of our effort to bring this pandemic to a close,” said Dr. Jenifir Bruno, chief medical officer for FirstHealth. “We are so close. Mask mandates have been lifted in many situations, and the number of new cases and hospitalizations continues to decline. We encourage all who are eligible to get vaccinated to protect yourself and to continue to decrease new cases, hospitalizations and deaths, and get us over the finish line.”

About 34.6 percent of the county’s population was fully vaccinated as of Thursday, according to DHHS.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that Union Pines had more cumulative cases involving students than any other school in the district. Pinecrest High has had the most cases, with 89.

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