Onslow County designated as “red” county for critical exposure

The county has seen its two highest single-days of reported cases in the past week and has confirmed ten of its 47 coronavirus deaths in the past month.
Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 7:22 PM EST
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - COVID-19 cases are surging in Onslow County so much that DHHS has designated the county as “red,” for critical coronavirus exposure.

“What we’re finding is people are getting tired,” said Onslow County Assistant Manager Sheri Slater. “They’re tired of following guidelines.”

The county has seen its two highest single-day totals of new cases in the last week, confirming an average of over 100 new cases a day. Ten of its 47 coronavirus deaths have been confirmed in the past month.

The county ranks in the top ten of the state’s worst growing coronavirus numbers, prompting the upgrade to “critical” risk Tuesday, according to county health officials who say they’re open to a “middle-ground” of further statewide restrictions to slow the spread, but keep their economies going.

“I’m not a fan of wearing a mask,” said Onslow County Commissioner Chair Jack Bright. “But I felt that I needed to protect myself and protect my family.”

COVID-19 Update

December 4, 2020 11:30AM - Onslow County Officials provide an update on COVID-19 impacts in the County and tentative vaccine distribution timelines.

Posted by Onslow County Government on Friday, December 4, 2020

But county leaders are hesitant to enact their own targeted restrictions, and are instead pushing the public to follow the ones Gov. Cooper has already enacted.

975 doses of the coronavirus vaccine are on their way to the county’s hospital, Onslow Memorial. The hospital will be on the list of more than 50 hospitals getting the first distribution of the vaccine starting next week.

It will be specifically reserved, however, for the hospital’s frontline workers. The one’s health officials are urging the public to help protect, as they deal with record-setting hospitalizations. But there’s no timeline as to when the vaccine will become widely available.

“And then we have to convince people to take it,” said Slater. “We know people are going to be concerned about that.”

The health department will be in charge of the county’s rollout of the vaccine to the public. They’re already preparing for public vaccination events for when it’s ready to be given out to the next group.

In the meantime, county officials say they don’t expect a major change in their numbers until they can see a major change in behavior.

“We have to get enough people vaccinated to slow the spread,” said Slater. “Until then, our numbers are going to continue to go up. So we are still asking people to follow all those same rules.”

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