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With COVID-19 hospitalizations continuing to rise at an alarming rate across North Carolina, reminders remain the single most important thing you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones out of the hospital. said officials from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. noted last week.

COVID case hospitalizations in North Carolina have increased to levels never seen before overall for the pandemic, and sadly, we are not alone. In the past seven days, North Carolina has reported 67,913 new cases of the virus. Compare that with the previous seven-day average of 29,701 new cases and the numbers speak for themselves.

For Surry County in the past 14 days, 798 new cases of the virus have been reported and 440 in the past seven days. Overnight, 93 new cases were reported, if this number were to remain stable, it would mean 651 new cases next week.

The trend is not unique to North Carolina as in the past week the country twice broke its record for daily COVID cases, according to data from The New York Times. On Thursday alone, the United States recorded more than 580,000 new cases of COVID. However, in the past two weeks, while the number of COVID cases in the United States has increased by 181% and the number of hospitalizations has increased by 19%, the number of deaths has decreased by 5%.

“Now is the time to do your recall,” said Kody H. Kinsley, deputy chief health officer and incoming DHHS secretary. “We have a lot of vaccines in place, and getting a booster shot, or getting vaccinated if you’re not already vaccinated, greatly lowers the risk of serious illness and hospitalization from the Omicron variant.” Vaccines are available free of charge to everyone 5 years of age and older from county health departments, your physician chains and pharmacies across the county.

The NCDHHS also adopted the revised guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, which outline what individuals should do if they contract or are exposed to COVID to help slow the spread to others. What hasn’t changed is that if you have symptoms, regardless of your vaccination status, you should get tested and isolate yourself from others while you wait for a result.

Not all of the COVID news today is bad news, as more and more studies on the omicron variant are being published which now suggest that omicron, “does its own thing in many ways”, according to Ravindra Gupta , a virus variant researcher at the University of Cambridge, and author of one of the studies. “The biology of the virus is no longer the same as before. It’s almost a novelty. »

These published studies included lab tests that found that the omicron variant caused infections that were less damaging to the lungs and instead limited its damage largely to the nose, throat, and trachea.

“It appears to be less virulent,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “We seem to have so much more immunity in December 2021” than in previous waves.

Now is not the time for anyone to let their guard down, simply because omicron may not be as lethal as previous variants. Justin Lessler, professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, said: “With Omicron, our surges are so large, even though they are on average… much less severe than the previous variants, the number of cases is such that hospital systems are going to be overwhelmed and there are risks to individuals as it is so likely that you will be infected.

Overcrowding in hospitals and pressure on scarce medical resources has been a concern since the start of the pandemic. Not too long ago are the memories of tired nurses reusing the same mask for a month while people at home made masks out of t-shirts and handkerchiefs. Everyone has the power to prevent this from happening again and can ease some of the pressure on local healthcare workers and public health officials by following the guidelines.

Surry County Health and Nutrition Center has sent the following reminder that if you cannot be tested, follow the advice below as if you were positive.

If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are:

• Unvaccinated – stay away from others for 5 days, test on day 5 after exposure and if you test negative return to normal activities while wearing a mask for another 5 days.

• Vaccinated and eligible for a booster, but not yet boosted – stay away from others for 5 days, get tested on day 5 after exposure, and if you test negative, return to normal activities while wearing a mask for another 5 days.

• You are vaccinated and have received your booster or you are not yet eligible for a booster – you do not need to stay away from others, but you must wear a mask for 10 days.

If your test is positive, regardless of your vaccination status, and:

• Do not have symptoms – self-isolate from others for 5 days, then wear a mask for another 5 days when you resume normal activities.

• Have symptoms – isolate yourself from others until you have been fever free for 24 hours and your symptoms improve. You must self-isolate for at least 5 days since your symptoms started. Once you stop self-isolating, you must wear a mask for an additional 5 days.

People who have received two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are eligible for a booster shot after 6 months, and those who have received a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine should initially receive a booster shot after 2 months.

According to the CDC, those who are eligible for the boosters and did not receive them should follow the stricter quarantine and mask guidelines.

The CDC guidelines cite initial data from South Africa showing that two doses of mRNA provide 35% protection against infection. With a booster injection, this increases to 75%.

The CDC recommends a properly fitted mask and, if possible, people are encouraged to wear a surgical or procedure mask, KN95 or N95 respirator. In general, the CDC recommends that all unvaccinated people 2 years of age or older wear a mask indoors.

The Surry County Health and Nutrition Center will offer vaccines and booster doses Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call 336-401-8400 to make an appointment, but walk-ins will be accepted.

The CDC, NCDHSS and Surry County Health and Nutrition Center ask that you do not go to the emergency room to get tested. The rule of thumb for COVID remains: if you’re not feeling well, err on the side of caution for the protection of your loved ones and neighbors and stay home.

For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, testing and advice, please call the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center or visit www.facebook.com/SurryCountyHealthandNutritionCenter

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