Highland County Health Department Director of Nursing Bonnie Rusch gave a complete update of local COVID-19 data Wednesday for the first time in two weeks, with local case counts mostly on the decline.

As of Wednesday, there were just 46 active cases, down from 81 two weeks ago. [Editor's note: This has been corrected from the previously announced 16 cases.] In all, Rusch said there have been 46 cases added in the past 14 days.

“COVID-19 case counts are currently at 106 cases per 100,000,” Rusch said. “This is down from 150 cases per 100,000 one week ago.”

There are 168 individuals being quarantined as of Wednesday. Highland County has had 3,475 cumulative cases and 3,401 recoveries since the start of the pandemic.

Although the number of deaths continues to fluctuate based on the state reporting, two more deaths have been added since March 24, for a total of 58 COVID-19-related deaths.

The cumulative number of hospitalizations has also increased slightly from the most recent update, as there are now 182 hospitalizations listed, up from 178 two weeks ago.

“Other trends for Highland County include a slight increase in outpatient visits, emergency department visits leveling off and a decrease in hospital admissions,” Rusch said.

The county’s vaccination rate has increased to 21.6 percent of the population starting their vaccinations, with 14 percent completely vaccinated, Rusch said. As of March 24, the vaccination rate was 17.94 percent. This is well below the state average, which as of Thursday was 33.48 percent.

“We are going to continue to see Highland County fall behind other parts of the state for vaccination rates unless we see more vaccine interest locally,” Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner said last week.

Rusch said that evening hours will be offered again next week at the department’s weekly COVID-19 vaccination clinic, set for April 15 from noon to 7 p.m. at the Highland County YMCA. Anyone 18 and older is eligible for the free Moderna vaccines offered. To register, go to: https://highlandcovidvax.timetap.com.

According to the Health Department, the state’s Regional Mass Vaccine Site at the Wilmington Air Park (1199 Airborne Rd., Wilmington 45177) also has some availability for the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Their opening appointments were completely filled last week. Clinics are offered Thursday through Saturday. To check for available appointments, go to: www.kroger.com/rx/covid-eligibility.