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Gaston County Public Health Director urging vaccinations as Delta variant spreads

The percent positive rate has surpassed 5% for the first time since early May.
Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 5:30 PM EDT
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GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Gaston County is seeing a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations as the Delta variant spreads.

The percent positive rate has surpassed 5% for the first time since early May.

Hospitalizations have climbed into the double digits.

“What we’re now seeing is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Gaston County Public Health Director Steve Eaton told WBTV.

Eaton says the community should have a sense of urgency to get the shot as the Delta variant spreads.

“Not only those who are contracting the virus are unvaccinated, but those who are getting sick and going to the hospital are unvaccinated,’ he said. “Those who are vaccinated we’re seeing that the vaccines are working and they’re working really well.”

Right now, just 36% of the county is fully vaccinated, while 39% has at least one shot.

To help get those numbers up, the county is stepping up partnerships with churches like Mount Zion Restoration Church in Gastonia.

“I think that the push has kinda died down, and we all eased up, and we need to put the press back on,” Pastor Rodney Freeman said.

Pastor Freeman opens his church as a vaccination site, and uses his voice to share vaccine information with his Gaston County congregation.

“By not taking this vaccine, really it’s putting their life in jeopardy,” he said. “By not taking this vaccine and getting this new variant that’s out there, it could take their life.”

He hopes his message is clear, and Eaton hopes it encourages others to be vocal too.

“They’re gonna listen to you oftentimes more than the experts out there,” he said.

Eaton also hopes families consider getting their eligible kids vaccinated before the school year.

He says the more that happens, the lesser the chance for disruptions this school year.

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