RANDOLPH COUNTY — For her final scheduled COVID-19 address to Randolph County Board of Commissioners, Randolph County Health Director Susan Hayes acknowledged that students at area high schools are becoming a focus of whom to vaccinate.

With a less-than-5% positive rate, the county has turned its attention to a younger demographic as it continues to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In Randolph County, Hayes said approximately 23% of the total population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of May 3. More than 20% of the county’s population had been fully vaccinated. State averages indicate that roughly 50% of the state has received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Students at Wheatmore High School received the vaccine earlier this month after the health director said she contacted Stephen Gainey, superintendent of Randolph County Schools, to arrange administration of the vaccine.

“That is a population that we need to really encourage vaccines with,” Hayes said of high-school students. “In looking at how we get to the people who aren’t getting vaccinated, we’ve reached a point at the health department where the demand has declined, and so we can turn staff loose to go and be out in the community.”

An uphill battle for the county, its fight against COVID-19 has been a challenging one. As of May 14, 15,049 people had contracted the virus in Randolph County since the outset of the pandemic, during which time 228 individuals died with COVID-19.

In May, the number of those who had the virus dipped to an average of 157 cases per 100,000 people. A total of 18 providers authorized to provide vaccines in Randolph County have administered doses.

Of those, 2% of vaccines in Randolph County have been administered to residents from the Asian community, 11% from the Latinx community and 6% from the African-American community, according to Hayes. The aging community has been at the center of vaccination efforts for months, as 73% of those who received the vaccine are over the age of 50.

A total of 29% are between the ages of 50 and 64, 25% are between 65 and 74 and 19% are people 75 years old and above. As of May 3, 23% were between ages 25 and 49, 4% were between 18 and 24 and 1% were 17 years of age and younger.

Long-term care facilities are seeing outbreaks, primarily among staff and not the residents. Four outbreaks were reported as of May 14 in the county.

Official statewide data on the COVID-19 pandemic is available at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/covid-19-case-count-nc.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.