FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- As Cumberland County continues to see COVID-19 metrics trending in the wrong direction, local health officials expect to see the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine next week.
County, city, and Fort Bragg officials held a press conference outside the Cumberland County Courthouse to debrief residents on the latest numbers and vaccine information on Wednesday afternoon.
"Every week, the number of positive hospitalized patients continues to rise," Michael Nagowski, the CEO of Cape Fear Valley Health said during the 3 p.m. press conference.
As of Wednesday, the county's COVID-19 total case number sits at 10,625 with 124 deaths. Nagowski says they're seeing a spike in numbers that they believe is connected to Thanksgiving. "Right now, there are 60 patients at the Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, who are hospitalized and COVID positive."
With the Pfizer vaccine on the horizon, Doctor Jennifer Green, the Health Director of the Cumberland County Department of Health, says they're working closely with the Cumberland County Emergency Management and Fort Bragg to ensure the county can receive and properly store next week's first shipment of vaccines.
"We hope that, by early 2021, we'll be able to vaccinate more widely in the public," Green said.
The Department of Defense also announced that military installations like Fort Bragg would be receiving a direct shipment of the Pfizer vaccine for troops and others on post. The shipments would go to the Womack Army Medical Center.
When asked about the number of vaccines and how it would be distributed on the Garrison, Colonel Sheryl Bedno, the Director of the Fort Bragg Department of Public Health, told reporters, "as we get more information, there will be means to provide that to our Fort Bragg community and others."
On the county level, Doctor Green says the first shipment of vaccines will go to medical staff and other individuals at high risk of contracting the Coronavirus.
Cape Fear Valley Health officials are still unsure of the number of vaccines they will receive. "We are prepared for next week, to begin to distribute approximately 5,000. We think that will be the general number in the very first wave," Nagowski said.
Right now, the COVID-19 positivity rate sits at 9.6 percent, according to Dr. Green. She calls on residents to remain vigilant and practice the three Ws, even as the vaccines start to become available to the public.
"Just because you're vaccinated doesn't mean you can stop wearing your mask; it doesn't mean you can stop social distancing. We need to maintain those things," Green said.