Lincoln County is currently in its ninth month of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lincoln County Health Director Davin Madden has been giving monthly updates to the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners. In most of the updates, Madden told the board that the county was doing a good job at keeping numbers down, that he wasn’t alarmed and that we were getting closer to the end. The update that he gave to board on Monday was less than optimistic.

“We’re all kind of burned out on COVID,” he said. “It’s strained everybody. We’re here to endure despite the hardships and the setbacks. It looks like we still have time before us that we’ll have to continue to endure. With that being said, I will add that I think for men, one of the hardest things to admit is when we’re wrong. When I first started this journey with COVID looking at the numbers and data, I was really believing that by the time we got to the middle part of December, that we would be in a better place. That was my forecast. I hate to say that I was wrong. We’re now in the most active, hottest week for COVID for Lincoln County as we have been so far this year. I hate that I was wrong. Maybe it was a lot of optimism on my part.”

The good news, Madden added, is the vaccine is coming forward. The Health Department is set to receive vaccines this week and we should hopefully be administering vaccines to Phase 1, priority recipients (frontline healthcare workers) the week after Christmas.

“The numbers show the urgency of this,” he said. “Right now, to date, we’re at 477 active cases and 4,219 positive recovered cases, but we’re also at 36 deaths. Something that, early on, I was hoping that we wouldn’t see deaths as high as they are. We’re at 36 deaths and will probably continue to have more as we move through this stage of active transmission.”

The challenge going forward, Madden said, is what to do with schools and try to manage student and teacher populations, support the local hospital and local businesses.

“I haven’t had to give up a paycheck yet, but we know a lot of people have,” he said. “We’ve changed the way we’re doing contact tracing which I think is helping us manage things better. When we got to 100, I was starting to get worried. When we got to 150, Commissioner Mitchem and Commissioner Permenter asked if I was worried. When we got to 200, they asked, how about now, and I was.”

The percent positive rate for Lincoln County is currently at about 12%, according to Madden. Atrium Health Lincoln is “pretty burdened,” and ventilator use is as high as it’s been. 

“They’ve changed over to other treatment options which has helped control people getting on the ventilator,” he said. “They don’t want to put people on the ventilator if they don’t have to. The COVID ICU numbers are still higher than we want them. I think they were at 40% of their capacity the last time I looked at it. It’s a lot higher than it’s been.”

Between people out on quarantine, as well as people getting burned out, retiring early or leaving the profession, the hospital is suffering with the human element of resource management, Madden added, which is the most important resource. 

Lincoln County will initially be getting 1,200 Moderna vaccines, according to Madden and they’ll be going first to frontline healthcare workers under Phase 1a, In the next phase, 1b, the vaccines will go to first responders, law enforcement and certain other high risk chronically ill people.

The 2020 Lincoln County Manager and Employee were named at this meeting. Normally a banquet is held, and these two individuals are named, but COVID prevented that this year.

Madden was named the 2020 Manager of the Year. The 2020 Employee of the Year is Lena Jones the Deputy Health Director.

In other matters:

  • The board approved an application from Patrick Boyle for a conditional use permit to allow a residential accessory structure, a 1,092-square-foot garage, to be located in front of the front building line of a house on a lot adjacent to Lake Norman. The 0.73-acre parcel is located at 5073 Fox Hollow Drive in Catawba Springs Township.

The request from Lincoln County Public Works Department for the dedication of public 

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