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Demand continues to exceed supply as county shifts to vaccine appointments

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Health Department on Monday announced its drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinics would switch to an appointment model, but it quickly saw proof of local demand vastly outpacing supply.

The announcement came in a letter written by Public Health Director Nina Oliver, who said the drive-thru clinics are efficient and effective for large numbers of vaccines. However, Oliver added she realized early on larger allocations were not going to come. For this week’s round vaccinations, the county only received 300 doses for the more than 24,500 people who currently meet criteria to receive a first shot.

Oliver said the county advocated for more than three times the number of doses received on Thursday.

“It is the availability of vaccine, not our process, that limits our ability to get vaccinations completed,” Oliver wrote. “I will continue to fight to get more doses allocated to our county.”

Appointments for this week’s vaccines opened at 10 a.m. Monday and were all claimed within 20 minutes. The next appointments will be for Feb. 3, and online signups will be available starting at 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 1. The website address for online signups is rowancountync.gov/1671/First-Dose-Clinics.

People without internet access can visit their nearest branch of the Rowan Public Library to use free Wi-Fi and computers to sign up. While people can call the COVID-19 hotline at 980-432-1800, county officials advise against that because of increased call volume and wait times that are expected to be long.

“We would like to allow you to schedule appointments further in advance,” Oliver wrote in her letter. “However, we do not want to put you in a situation that occurred this week with surrounding counties where appointments were scheduled, but they did not receive vaccines causing (in some cases thousands of) appointments to be canceled. I will continue to vigorously fight for more vaccine allotment for Rowan County. If I am notified that we will receive additional doses, I will add more appointments to the clinic that week.”

Another option, Oliver said, is for people to reach out to their primary care provider and ask for a referral to Novant Health’s vaccination clinic.

Roughly one month since the first vaccinations occurred in Rowan, 3,678 people have received one dose. About 404 have receive their second, final dose. The numbers, however, count people who had received a vaccination by Jan. 20, and an update of vaccinations this week are likely to show an increase.

Local vaccinations may receive a boost, in part, because of large events held at venues such as Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Carolina Panthers’ stadium in uptown Charlotte. At Charlotte Motor Speedway from Friday through Sunday, more than 16,000 people were expected to receive a vaccine. Though, that number didn’t count any no-shows. This weekend, Atrium Health will offer first vaccinations at Bank of America Stadium on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

People do not have to be vaccinated in the county where they live.

Daily statistics

COVID-19 positives in Rowan County continue to rise even as vaccinations are being administered.

There were 81 new positives reported Sunday and 109 on Monday, bringing the total to 2,788 this year and 11,613 over the course of the entire pandemic. Included in the cases added Sunday and Monday were three in congregate care facilities such as nursing homes.

There were also 31 recoveries reported Monday and no change in the 236 total COVID-19 deaths, making the number of cases officially considered active 5,223.

There were 29 Rowan County residents hospitalized on Monday, which has remained flat since last week.

Statewide, new cases are on the decline, with 6,096 reported Sunday and 4,633 on Monday. Likewise, hospitalizations are also decreasing, with 3,287 people in North Carolina in a hospital on Monday and nearly 4,000 two weeks ago.

There have been 723,445 total COVID-19 cases in the state since the start of the pandemic, 8,720 deaths and 8.5 million completed tests.

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