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Four additional deaths related to COVID-19 bring the total to 49, the Halifax County Health Department reported today.

Two additional related deaths were reported within the Roanoke Rapids area ZIP code; one within the Hollister area ZIP code and one within the Weldon area ZIP code, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 dashboard.

The breakdown of related deaths is as follows: 26 within the Roanoke Rapids area ZIP code; seven within the Scotland Neck area ZIP code; five within the Enfield area ZIP code; four 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. 

The health department today also added 45 new positive cases which bring the total cumulative positives since March to 2,835.

Data on recoveries and current cases was not available today.

December 25 marked the ninth month the health department has been releasing COVID-19 data.

Of those nine months, health department Director Bruce Robistow said this evening, “The past nine months have been very challenging to both mitigate and control infection rates and deaths, convincing people of the science and the practicality of prevention through the Three W’s — wearing a facial covering, handwashing, and waiting 6-feet apart.”

He said, “We have been in a continuing battle since this all started,” adding, however, “It’s not too late for us to protect each other and get these numbers under control.”

Even with the vaccine now available, Robistow said, “It will still be months before we reach a level of herd immunity that will bring us back to some semblance of order. More than ever it’s vital that we take this extremely seriously and work together to protect each other. Today’s numbers are just another example of how much work we still need to do. Please comply with the Three W’s.” 

Meanwhile, the health department said in its report vaccinations have started for those in the 1A category — frontline workers, health department employees, pharmacists, doctors’ offices, dentists, funeral workers and EMS staff.

Vaccinations of those in this category will continue through next week and the following week people in the 1B category will receive vaccinations. Those include first responders, essential workers and people with multiple comorbidities, Robistow said. “When we open it up to the general public we will have dates, locations and times.”

Approximately 80 in the 1A category have been vaccinated.

Response to the vaccine has been good, Robistow said, and has been a collaborative effort between the health department, Rural Health Group and DrugCo. “We’re excited to boast we have had this cooperation since the beginning of this pandemic.”

Northampton County

The health department reported today there were 1,089 total positive cases of which 967 have recovered. There are 65 active cases. There have been 57 related deaths.

Vidant Health

The health system reported Tuesday that since December 17 more than 3,200 team members and providers across the Vidant Health system have received the vaccine. 

Vaccine clinics are continuing daily for those team members and providers interested and eligible based on the CDC’s guidelines.

Team members and providers are observed 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine and Vidant’s data show that very few — less than 1 percent of those vaccinated — have noted immediate reactions to the vaccine.

As of Monday Vidant’s system-wide census of hospitalized COVID-19 patients is 180. Additionally, positivity rates have steadily increased since the Thanksgiving holiday, reaching a current rate of about 22 percent, the highest rate Vidant has seen all year.

There was no immediate breakdown for individual facilities, a spokesman said.

“While the vaccine offers great hope, COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the state and here in eastern North Carolina,” Vidant said. “It is vitally important that the community help stop the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing hands, social distancing and avoiding gatherings.”