As COVID-19 situation worsens in Chatham, health department implores county: get vaccinated

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PITTSBORO — The Chatham County Public Health Department is imploring all county residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear a mask in public places to protect themselves and their community against the deadly virus.

Chatham County recently saw its first deaths due to COVID-19 since May as case numbers are surging at a level not seen since the county’s previous peak in January.

Other facts:

• Since early July, nearly a quarter of COVID-19 cases in Chatham County have been among children under age 18

• The average patient hospitalized from COVID-19 in North Carolina is in their 40s, down from above the age of 60 earlier in the pandemic

• The average total cost of these hospitalizations is in the tens of thousands, with an out-of-pocket cost of more than $1,000

A new weekly surveillance report from the N.C. Dept. of Health & Human Services (NCDHHS) revealed some more stark data. (Read the full report here: https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/media/380/open.)

• Unvaccinated individuals are almost 4.5 times as likely to get COVID-19 as vaccinated individuals.

• Unvaccinated individuals are 15.4 times as likely to die of COVID-19 as vaccinated individuals.

“COVID-19 deaths are no longer mainly in nursing homes,” said Chatham County Public Health Director Mike Zelek. “They are in the community and among the unvaccinated. The facts are clear: those who are unvaccinated are much more likely to get COVID-19, spread it to others, get very sick and die from COVID-19. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is how we end this pandemic and avoid preventable deaths.”

Vaccination continues to be the most effective tool for preventing COVID-19 disease, hospitalization and death. There are many regularly-open options for vaccination in Chatham County. Visit www.vaccines.gov to find a location.

New Vaccination Options

New pop-up vaccine clinics are operating in the next two weeks across Chatham County:

• Thursday, Sept. 2, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., in partnership with Optum Health; at the Old Agriculture Building, 65 E. Chatham Street, Pittsboro

• Tuesday, Sept. 7, and Thursday, Sept. 9, 4-7 p.m., in partnership with NCDHHS;

at Northwood High School, 310 Northwood High School Rd., Pittsboro, and Seaforth High School, 444 Seaforth Rd., Pittsboro

• Wednesday, Sept. 8, and Friday, Sept. 10, 4-7 p.m., in partnership with NCDHHS; at Chatham Central High School, 14950 N.C. Hwy. 902, Bear Creek, and Jordan-Matthews High School, 910 E. Cardinal St., Siler City.

The Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be available at these public events. No appointment is needed, and second doses will be available at the same locations.

New COVID-19 Testing Options

The CCPHD is working with Optum Health to establish additional no-cost COVID-19 testing options in Pittsboro and Siler City. Through at least Oct. 6, Optum Health will be offering testing each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from noon to 6 p.m. at the Old Agriculture Building at 65 E. Chatham St., Pittsboro. Plans are in the works to offer a similar testing site in Siler City. Residents can visit www.chathamcountync.gov/coronavirustesting to see a regularly-updated list of COVID-19 testing options.

If residents have any questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, they can call the CCPHD COVID-19 Vaccine Infoline at 919-545-8323.

To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and the CCPHD’s vaccination plans, visit www.chathamcountync.gov/coronavirusvaccine. To learn more about the Chatham County Public Health Department, visit www.chathamcountync.gov/publichealth or www.facebook.com/chathamhealth.

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