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LENOIR — Although the COVID-19 numbers are trending in the right direction, local health leaders continue to urge residents to remain vigilant in taking precautions as concerns mount of a winter surge.

Across North Carolina, only about 56% of the population is fully vaccinated. The Caldwell County Health Department encourages residents to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other flu-like illnesses during this holiday season.

“While COVID cases are currently decreasing in our county, it’s important to continue taking precautions to protect yourself and your family,” said Caldwell County Public Health Director Anna Martin.

The Health Department recommends everyone to stay and keep loved ones healthy. It is crucial to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot as colder weather looms along with holiday gatherings. Stay home when sick. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and remember to throw away the tissue. Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Wear a covering over your mouth and nose when you are unable to keep six feet distance between yourself and others.

The total population for Caldwell County is 82,482 residents, based on the 2021 U.S. Census. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the average COVID-19 case count during November is 22.16 cases per day.

“This is down from what we’ve seen over the last four months,” said Paige Counts, Caldwell County public information officer.

The total number of deaths in the county has reached 224 since the very beginning of the pandemic. Caldwell has been home to 13,905 COVID-19 cases.

So far, about 47% of county residents have taken their first vaccine dose, and about 45% of the county’s residents are fully vaccinated. These numbers fall slightly behind the state averages: 61% of North Carolina residents have taken at least the first dose, and 56% are fully vaccinated.

“Right now, we’re just trying to get everyone vaccinated,” said Martin. “We want to get out as much information as we can and urge people to get vaccinated in order to stop the spread so we can return to normalcy.”

The health department has vaccines readily available every week from Tuesday to Thursday.

To treat patients who test positive for COVID-19, the health department has partnered with EMS Community Paramedics to provide monoclonal infusion therapy. To receive this infusion therapy, patients must have one of the following: one or more mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms; be within the first 10 days of the start of symptoms; be at high-risk for hospitalization due to pre-existing conditions.

To make an appointment with the health department for monoclonal therapy, COVID-19 testing, or to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, call 828-426-8400.