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Three additional deaths related to COVID-19 now bring the Halifax County total to 52, the health department reported today.

The health department, since its last report on December 31, also added 166 new positive cases of COVID-19 to its data. That brings the cumulative positive total since March to 3,065.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, there were two additional related deaths reported within the Scotland Neck area ZIP code and one related death reported within the Weldon area ZIP code.

The breakdown of related deaths is as follows: 26 within the Roanoke Rapids area ZIP code; nine within the Scotland Neck area ZIP code; five within the Enfield area ZIP code; five within the Weldon area ZIP code; two within the Halifax area ZIP code; two within the Hollister area ZIP code; two within the Littleton area ZIP code; and one within the Hobgood area ZIP code. 

There continues to be a sustained increase in the number of positive cases.

Health Director Bruce Robistow told county commissioners at their meeting this morning that 996 or one-third of the new positive cases have been reported within the last 14 days. “We now have a 15.8 percent positivity rate which is just very high.”

Thus far in the 1A vaccination plan there have been 320 vaccinated from within that category. Vaccination under 1A — frontline workers — continues this week and vaccinations under 1B begin next week. A chart in the photo gallery explains the varying categories.

Robistow told the board, “The health department does have positive cases which have dramatically affected my clinical resources but planning ahead we have an incredibly strong team that includes our health department, Rural Health Group, DrugCo, EMS and law enforcement. Although we’ve taken a hit in the health department, vaccines will not be slowed.” 

Two factors stand out when looking back to 2020, the health director said. We’ve had 20 million positive cases in our country. It took 10 months, January through October, to get 10 million. The last 10 million came in the last two months. This is out of control.”

The other factor which stands, he said, is that the country set record numbers for voting last year. “My job is to get the message out, to try to help people protect themselves. We have to mitigate this. We’re doing a terrible job and it’s very complicated.”

Holding up a mask with the letters WAM written on it during the Zoom format meeting, Robistow said, “Because we’re really good at voting I thought it may be a good idea to get people to vote and this is your ballot — a mask.”

Said Robistow: “Wear a mask if you want churches, gyms, bars, restaurants, theaters to open. If you want to know you did not play a role in the death of a friend or loved one wear a mask. If you want schools or universities to fully open, wear a mask. If you want sports back with fans cheering on, wear a mask. If you want to unite America like we did during World Wars I and II and during 911 wear a mask.”

Holding up a bottle of vaccine, Robistow said, “We’re getting it done. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not a train and the only way we’re going to get back to the things I’ve mentioned is to wear a mask, get vaccinated and then we can get to a herd immunity. I anticipate we can do this by June.”

He said, however, the way the numbers are climbing “show a blatant disregard for wearing a mask and we need to work together as a team to help protect each other and to communicate. This is really taking a toll on all of us.”

Commissioner Patrick Qualls said he keeps in constant contact with the health department. “Everytime I call him about trying to keep my employees and family safe he is incredibly responsive and has given some really good recommendations. We’re lucky as heck we have Bruce in that position and the staff from the board of health have done an incredible job.”

Commissioner Marcelle Smith, who served as temporary chair in the absence of Vernon Bryant and Vice Chair Rives Manning, said, “We thank you for all the hard work you and your team at the health department has done for us. Our prayers go out to the staff that are out and that they are back at work soon.” 

Northampton County

The health department reported Thursday there were 1,116 total positive cases of which 977 have recovered. There were 82 active cases. There have been 57 related deaths.