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Bill Kirby Jr.: This public health nuisance just keeps hanging around

The increase in COVD-19 cases in the community is discussed as part of CityView TODAY’S May podcast.


Confound COVID 19, the public health menace.

About the time we think we’re getting past the coronavirus, it rears its ugly head again.

“We are beginning to see an increase in COVID-19 cases in Cumberland County,” says Dr. Jennifer Green, director of the Cumberland County Health Department. “This increase is not as steep as past waves, e.g. Delta, Omicron. Cumberland County is currently designated as a ‘low’ COVID-19 community level. We are monitoring the data closely, as other counties in close proximity have shifted to a ‘medium’ COVID-19 community level.”

No argument from Dr. Sam Fleishman, chief medical officer for Cape Fear Valley Health.

“We are seeing a modest rise in COVID hospitalizations, with minimal of one to two patients in the ICU,” Fleishman says. “Our census of COVID patients is 19. We had been hovering in the low- to mid-teens for the past two to three weeks.”

The total cases for Cumberland County have been climbing since early April, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. The county had 79 cases the week ending April 2. It had 625 cases the week ending May 14, according to data on the Health and Human Services website.

This COVID-19 is such a nuisance.

It altered our lives to the point that we were confined to our homes for more than a year and a half. We were kept away from family get-togethers and social gatherings with friends. We resorted to wearing facemasks just about everywhere we went. The Lone Ranger wore a mask to protect his identity in fighting crime. We wore facemasks to protect ourselves and others in the name of not contracting the disease or infecting someone else.

Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccinations provided a respite, and third booster injections, too. No doubt, the numbers went down. And perhaps we became a bit complacent as well.

Some believe COVID-19 is all about politics. That it is, they surmise, just the flu. But some of us look at the numbers – 83,145,591 cases in the U.S., according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 999,384 deaths.

Believe what you will.

I’m sticking with the health folks, including Green and Fleishman.

‘When these waves come’

“It is important for the community to stay prepared for when these waves come,” Green says.

Stay up to date, she says, on your COVID-19 vaccines.

“It is not too late for individuals to get their initial COVID-19 vaccines,” Green says. “Individuals should also get a booster shot when eligible if it has been several months since your first and second dose.”

Vaccines are available at the Health Department, she says, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. All doses are available, including the two initial doses and the two boosters.

“We will have additional booster shots for children ages 5-11 available this week,” she says.

Vaccinations also are available, Fleishman says, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Center Pharmacy at the Medical Arts Center, 101 Robeson St.; the Hoke Pharmacy at Cape Fear Valley Health Pavilion Hoke, 300 Medical Pavilion, Suite 100, Raeford; and from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at HPN Express Care, 6387 Ramsey St. The Pfizer vaccine, for ages 5 to 11, according to Fleishman, also is available at those locations.

Vaccinated or not, truth be told, you still can contract COVID-19 or a variant. I know people who have had both vaccinations and the booster and still tested positive for COVID-19. If you suspect you may have COVID-19, Green says, test yourself at home if you have a COVID-19 home kit or find a testing site. Free testing is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Health Department, and there are about 40 testing sites throughout the county. You can find information about testing at co.cumberland.nc.us/covid19.

If you do test positive, Green says, seek treatment. And if you test positive, wear a facemask, Green says. And wear a facemask, too, if you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive.


I’m no health expert when it comes to COVID-19 or virus variants Omicron and Delta. Far from it.

I’m just listening to health leaders such as Green and Fleishman when they say there is a community spike, and I believe all of us should give them a receptive ear.

You can learn more about the virus and what’s happening in our community later this week on the CityView TODAY podcast. Tamra Morris, the health education supervisor at the Cumberland County Health Department, joins moderator Tim White and CityView TODAY reporter Michael Futch to discuss what’s happening in the county. You can access the podcast at cityviewtoday.com. It also is available on the WIDU 1600AM Facebook page.

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910- 624-1961. 

Column, Bill Kirby Jr., COVID-19, Cumberland County, Health Department, vaccinations