RANDOLPH COUNTY — An update to the Randolph County Board of Commissioners detailed a more promising outlook on the COVID-19 pandemic than has previously been offered.

Susan Hayes, public health director in Randolph County, said the decline in case numbers, deaths and positive test rate have left the area in a much better place than where it was to start the year. An 8% positive test rate, Hayes said, is closer to the 5% health professionals want to see than the double figures Randolph occupied not long ago.

Moreover, developments with the vaccination process have provided a more hopeful outlook. A total of 6,960 first doses of the vaccine had been administered in Randolph County as of Monday. Additionally, Hayes says a one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine approval could be a significant sign of progress.

“We are closer to where we want to be,” Hayes said. “I’m excited that Johnson & Johnson was approved this week. I think that will be a game changer, because it is one dose. It is much easier to store, so I think we will see that much more in local providers’ offices, physicians’ offices. Small pharmacies would be able to manage that much easier.”

Nevertheless, the overall impact of the pandemic has taken a toll on the county. As of Friday, 13,131 Randolph County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since the outset of the pandemic, including 204 who have died. A total of 124 county employees have contracted the virus, according to Randolph County Chairman Darrell Frye.

Those numbers, Hayes says, could see a dramatic reduction over the next 30 days if residents continue to adhere to state guidelines. Additionally, the health director suggests beyond the vaccine, immune systems of those who have contracted the virus are also helping keep individuals safe.

“I’m extremely hopeful that by April, our numbers are going to look even better because we’re going to have so much vaccine that everybody’s going to be safe by then, I hope,” Hayes said. “What they’re seeing is that when you have COVID or if you’re been vaccinated, we know you’re safe for 90 days, but we think you’re safe for longer. The data is pointing to that. I fully expect that we’ll find that 90-day window pushed back to much longer.”

This expectation should help with what has been a multi-generational health crisis.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Archdale’s 27263 zip code has reported 1,868 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, 32 of whom have died. Sophia’s 27350 zip has tallied 523 cases and six deaths. In Trinity, the 27370 zip has recorded 1,339 cases. A total of 27 of those individuals died.

Of the 862,170 total cases in North Carolina, 11,286 had died.

Official statewide data on the COVID-19 pandemic is available at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/covid-19-case-count-nc. Anyone with questions related to COVID-19 or who needs to know local testing sites can call the Randolph County Health Department at 336-318-6200.

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.