Updated Feb. 17, 2021, at 2:14 p.m. to include additional information on budget allocations.

The Alamance County Board of Commissioners passed motions to increase funding for the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office and Alamance Community College at their Feb. 15 meeting. The commissioners also discussed the decreasing COVID-19 infection rate in the county and the North Carolina vaccination plan.

Increase to sheriff’s office budget

The Alamance County Commissioners passed a motion to increase the jail budget by $1 million for the renewal of the county’s contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The budget amendment is expected to be used to fund the ICE program through the end of June. This is an increase from last year’s budget of over $12.5 million. 

Currently, Alamance County has the only 72-hour holding center in North Carolina for immigration detainees. 

In a written comment, Alamance County resident Jeffery Clayton told the commissioners that Sheriff Terry Johnson’s efforts were helping to continue to enforce the laws of the United States.

“Thank you, Terry Johnson, for continuing to enforce the laws of our country,” Clayton wrote. “Keep fighting for American citizens, Terry.”

In another written comment, resident Carey Griffin told the board of commissioners that the sheriff’s department budget should not be increased, and the county should end its contract with ICE.

“I love the rich tapestry of folks from all walks of life that call this county home,” Griffin wrote. “Yet not all of the people who live here feel safe or welcomed in large part due to sheriff’s partnership with ICE.”

Alamance Community College requests funding

ACC requested $335,600 in capital funds from Alamance County to cover the cost of facility renovations for their Emergency Medical Services program. Algie Gatewood, president of ACC, said enrollment in the program has rapidly increased in recent years, and the community college’s current facilities do not support the growth of enrollment in the program.

“It’s an incredibly important program,” Gatewood said. “The facilities we have are insufficient and cannot support the growth that we are achieving.”

The Emergency Medical Services program at ACC is currently located in a space smaller than 3,000 feet and was temporarily housed in former computer-integrated machining program labs. 

The proposed plan for expansion of the EMS program is to dedicate 6,300 square feet of space to the program and to create simulation labs, including a simulated emergency room where students in the program can practice their skills. The proposed plan seeks to build a control room for observation and critique, along with a simulated ambulance. Construction of new facilities is expected to start in May.

COVID-19 update for Alamance County

Tony Lo Giudice, the health director of Alamance County, spoke to the board of commissioners about the amount of active coronavirus cases in the county, which has declined since his last update on Feb. 1. Lo Giudice said there were currently 618 active cases compared to 1,276 active cases reported in his update at the Feb. 1 meeting. 

Lo Giudice also reported the positivity rate of coronavirus cases in the county had dropped from 14.9% in January to 8% as of Feb. 15. 

“The goal here is to get below 5%, and we’ve seen a very significant drop over the last couple of weeks,” Lo Giudice said. 

Vaccination efforts in Alamance County

Lo Giudice said the indoor vaccination site at 2401 Eric Lane is being prepared for first dose operations, and the county is working alongside vaccine providers to distribute doses out to the community. Walgreens was recently added to the county’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution site list recently with a plan to administer 100 doses a day.

The Alamance County Health Department is partnering with Piedmont Health Services and the General Baptist Convention of North Carolina to host a vaccination clinic on Feb. 20 at the Burlington Athletic Stadium. The event is expected to administer 300 to 500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Alamance County Board of Commissioners also discussed Gov. Roy Cooper’s recent announcement to move vaccination distribution to Group 3, which consists of school, childcare and essential workers over 65 years old. Lo Giudice said the county’s decision to shift current vaccination efforts is tentative on demand from Groups 1 and 2 and the amount of vaccine doses allocated to the county.