MONROE — Union County is showing progress in the battle to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, based reports from Union County Government. The County Alert System on Monday was still at the worst level, red (critical community spread), but dropped down to the mid-level range of Orange (substantial community spread) on Tuesday (Feb. 23).

The pandemic remains a threat to public health in the County. Thus far in 2021, Union County has lost 93 residents to COVID-related deaths in a span of 53 days — an average of nearly 1.8 deaths per day. The number of COVID deaths in the County in 2020, starting with the first virus-related death on April 9, averaged 0.37 per day. Based on those statistics, COVID deaths in 2021 are five times higher than in 2020.

But the COVID vaccine has now been distributed in the County for a couple months, and the number of cases, and hospitalizations, are clearly trending in the right direction.

COVID-related hospitalizations hovered over 60 in Union County at its peak, but has dropped down to 16 as of Tuesday. The County’s positivity rate, which indicates the percentage of tested residents getting a positive result, was once over 20%, but is now down to 7.9%.

North Carolina is showing a similar downward trajectory. The number of daily reported COVID cases in N.C. climbed to more than 8,000 per day in December and peaked at 12,079 on Feb. 3, according to NC Department of Health and Human Services. Over the past week, the state’s number of daily COVID cases has stayed under 4,000 per day with a low of 1,514, which was reported on Feb. 23.

The state’s positivity rate is at 6.2% as of Feb. 22. According to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health, any positivity rate above 5% is classified as “too high” and indicates that “more testing should probably be done.”

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health states: “When there is not enough testing in an area, people who are infected with coronavirus don’t get counted, and they don’t know to isolate themselves. As a result, these people can spread the coronavirus and cause disease in their communities.”