A local infectious disease expert provided an upbeat assessment today of Forsyth County's COVID-19 situation.
Dr. Christopher Ohl says case rates are currently down to October levels of 26 per 100,000; COVID hospitalizations are the lowest they've been since last September; schools are re-opening; teachers are getting vaccinated; and roughly 35 percent of seniors have already received the vaccine.
“And so, a lot of pressure off of health care, and that's a fantastic thing,” says Ohl. “So, if you haven't got the hint yet, this is all good news. And this has all really got me thrilled actually.”
Ohl says soon, as vaccine supplies increase, other level teachers such as universities and colleges will be vaccinated, as well as front line workers including grocery store clerks, first responders, and reporters.
A total of roughly 77,000 people in Forsyth County have received a COVID-19 vaccine to date, according to state data. That's approximately one in five individuals. Ohl says the main limiting factor now is supply, but he adds that the situation will soon improve with Pfizer and Moderna fine-tuning their manufacturing methods and ramping up production.
“They'll probably be able to increase their production by 10 times or more over the next month,” says Ohl. “And then this week the FDA's committee voted to approve Johnson & Johnson's new vaccine. And while the number of doses initially will be somewhat limited, by the end of March they'll be much more formidable, and that's going to help us a lot. The more players on the block that can give us vaccine the faster and more people we can vaccinate.”
Ohl's comments came as he also acknowledged a grim milestone: COVID-19 deaths topping the 500,000 mark in the United States. He recommends that people quickly take advantage of any of the three vaccines as soon the opportunity becomes available to them.
For the most up-to-date information on coronavirus in North Carolina, visit our Live Updates blog here. WFDD wants to hear your stories — connect with us and let us know what you're experiencing.