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Bladen County, Bladenboro Singled Out as Covid Hotspots

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by Blake Proctor

At Governor Roy Cooper’s June 25th Covid19 update press conference, he provided the encouraging news that statewide numbers are stabilizing: As of June 25th, 1,012,343 citizens statewide have tested positive for Covid, with 13,412 deaths since March of 2020. 1.9% of all tests given have come back positive.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, Director of the state’s Department of Health & Human Services (NCDHHS), reported that 55% of the state’s population has had at least the first vaccination, with roughly 52% fully vaccinated.
She stated that “99%+ of all new cases are from those who are not fully vaccinated.” She continued that 64% of those new Covid19 cases are among people ages 49 and under, who have thus far been leery of taking the shots. “Vaccines are working!”

President Joe Biden, speaking during his Raleigh visit on Thursday, pushed for more North Carolinians to get vaccinated. As it is, North Carolina will not meet the July 4th deadline for 70% full vaccination, not reaching that goal until November.

Dr. Cohen reported that with only a third of its residents fully vaccinated, Bladen County was the state’s Covid hotspot; she reported that about 60% of all positive cases in the last three weeks in Bladen County have been in the Bladenboro zip code. Said Dr. Cohen, “What’s happening in Bladen County is preventable.”

Dr. Terri Duncan, Director of the Bladen Department of Health & Human Services, had basically already presented the bad news to the Board of Commissioners at its June 21st meeting.

When asked what Bladenboro’s response was to this announcement, Bladenboro Town Administrator Oryan Lowry affirmed that the immediate steps being taken to combat the virus included closing Town Hall to walk-in traffic and the return of both employee mask requirements and the six-foot distancing restrictions that have worked in the past.

He assured the public that bills would still be accepted at the drive-through; they may also be paid online. He also urged Bladenboro residents to continue to wear face masks and to return to the six-foot social distancing mandate that has worked so well when practiced.

Mayor Rufus Duckworth was not available for comment by press time.