TRIAD — COVID-19 remains a disruptive threat as new variants infect people growing weary of the risk more than two years after the coronavirus pandemic emerged, an area infectious disease specialist said Thursday.
The highly contagious BA.4 and BA.5 omicron variants have caused COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations to increase locally and across the state, said Dr. Christopher Ohl with Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist in Winston-Salem.
Medical centers in the Atrium Health network are recording levels of COVID-19 patient hospitalizations not seen since February during the omicron spike, though deaths and intensive care unit admissions haven’t increased dramatically.
Public health reports from the state reflect Ohl’s assessment. The number of counties with high levels of COVID-19 community risk increased from 41 last week to 50 this week, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients went up from 1,039 last week to 1,111 this week. But the level remains far below the pandemic peak of 5,049 patients for the week of Jan. 29.
The number of intensive care unit patients with COVID-19 statewide edged up from 120 last week to 125 this week. Again, the level remains noticeably below the peak of 808 ICU patients with the virus for the week of Jan. 29.
The department also reports an increase in reported COVID-19 cases and a slight increase in emergency room visits by people with virus symptoms in the past week.
Ohl said that the resurgence of COVID-19 emphasizes the need to get a booster shot for those 50 or older, people with underlying health conditions and those who are traveling for summer vacation or business.
Health officials have said that vaccinations and boosters do not prevent infection by BA.5 in particular, but they greatly decrease the risk of severe illness.
Ohl also suggested that children get inoculated before the start of the new school year next month.
The current wave of COVID-19 because of the new variants could linger through August into early September, Ohl said. But pharmaceutical companies are developing a new vaccine targeting the BA.4 and BA.5 variants that should be available for the public in the late summer to early fall.
“It really looks promising,” he said.
In North Carolina, as of this week, 77% of the adult population has been vaccinated with at least one dose, and 59% of those who are fully vaccinated have had at least one booster shot, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. Among children ages 6 to 17 years old, 29% are vaccinated with at least one dose.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 336-888-3528 | @HPEpaul
HIGH POINT — Eleven sites in the city of High Point will have National Night Out events on Tuesday.
National Night Out is an annual program designed to foster better relationships between law enforcement and neighborhoods while promoting safer communities. Started 38 years ago, National Night Out is marked in 16,000 communities by 38 million people, the organization reports on its website.
The High Point sites are:
• Burns Hill, 1208 R.C. Baldwin Ave., 6-8 p.m.
• Conrad Baptist Church, 1920 N. Centennial St., 5-8 p.m.
• Hailey Historical, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., 7:30 p.m.-until
• London Woods, 1712 Cedrow Drive, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
• Macedonia Family Resource Center, 401 Lake Ave., 5:30-8:30 p.m.
• Newgate Garden Apartments, 605 Granby Ave., 5:30-7:30 p.m.
• North Borough Neighborhood, 5705 N. Borough Road, 6:30-8 p.m.
• Oakview Recreation Center, 503 James Road, 6-8 p.m.
• Union Baptist, 1756 Lamb Ave., 6-8 p.m.
• Washington Street community, 738 Washington St. 6-8, p.m.
• West End Ministries, Bountiful Harvest Community Garden, 800 block of W. English Road, 5:30-8 p.m.
All are scheduled to have food and refreshments.
email@example.com | 336-888-3528 | @HPEpaul
HIGH POINT — The project to restore John Coltrane’s childhood home has begun in earnest.
With a $250,000 grant from the N.C. General Assembly in hand, the High Point Preservation Society has initiated plans to not only preserve the nearly century-old historic house at 118 Underhill St. but to transform it into a tourist destination.
“Our primary intention is to stabilize the house and make it secure for tours,” said Benjamin Briggs, president of the preservation society board. “The house was never conditioned for tours — it’s been vacant for some time — but our goal is to use these funds … to enhance the structure for the city to use it for tourism.”
According to Briggs, the restoration of the compact, two-story house will be a multifaceted project that will include painting the exterior, reglazing the windows and renovating the portico on the side of the house.
“We’ll also do surface treatments inside the house so it looks appropriate to the time period of the Coltranes,” Briggs said. “And we’ll do some very careful removing of the existing kitchen — since the house isn’t going to be used as a residence — and an upstairs bathroom.”
The project may also include restoration of the home’s staircase, which originally had two downstairs entry points — one from the back door and one from the kitchen — that met at a small landing leading to the flight of stairs.
Other improvements will include the addition of a ramp for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, an upgraded electrical system, and a heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit that will be adequate for a public facility, Briggs said.
In accordance with the grant, the restoration project must be complete by June 2023, Briggs said.
Formally known as the Blair-Coltrane House, the structure was built in the Dutch Colonial style by Coltrane’s maternal grandfather, the Rev. W.W. Blair, and the family moved into the house in 1929.
Coltrane, who would become one of the most influential jazz artists in history, lived in the house until 1943, when he graduated from William Penn High School. It was during those years that he developed his love for music and began to blossom as a performer, first playing the clarinet and later the saxophone.
Still at its original site, the Blair-Coltrane House was designated a Guilford County Historic Landmark in December 2020.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 336-888-3579
HIGH POINT — A seventh vendor has opened in High Point’s new food hall.
Biscuits Brisket & Beer, serving smoked meats and Texas-style barbecue, biscuits, brisket and beer, will open at 11 a.m. today and Saturday at Stock + Grain Assembly, 275 N. Elm St. It’s closed Sunday and Monday and then will open at 11 a.m. daily starting Tuesday.
The closing time each day will depend on how quickly the food sells, said restaurant owner Chris Ryker, founder of NC Beer Pride and co-owner of Bevelry and Cahoots, the two neighborhood bars at the food hall.
“There is only a certain amount of barbecue that we can make per day, so once we’re out, we’re out, and we’ll be back at it again the next day,” he said. “The likelihood of us running out before dinner time is extremely high, so please plan accordingly.”
Ryker said since announcing the plans for Biscuits Brisket & Beer last year, he has enhanced the menu to include more options, including a sampler platter named the “Big Gull” featuring a quarter pound brisket and smoked turkey, one link of spicy chicken sausage and a biscuit with one topping. Biscuit toppings are all locally sourced as much as possible and feature sawmill gravy, local honey, homemade pimento cheese, molasses and fried green tomatoes.
Biscuits Brisket & Beer utilizes a cashless payment system. All major debit and credit cards, as well as Apple Pay and Google Pay, are accepted.
For more information, follow @biscuits_brisket_beer on Instagram and Biscuits-Brisket-Beer on Facebook.
Four other food and beverage partners have opened to date: Yumi Sushi, Pop’s Mini Doughnut Shop, Damn Good Dogs and Message Coffee. Still to open is Miss Johnnie Mae’s Kitchen, the most recent partner to have joined the food hall lineup.
Additional food partners will be announced in the coming months.