Dare County’s weekly COVID-19 test positivity rate spikes to 13.6%

COVID-19 cases are now rapidly spreading through Dare County, with 136 new cases since Dec. 22, the health department says.

Of those 117, or 86%, are symptomatic while 106, 78%, acquired the virus by direct contact with an individual with the virus. Twenty-one of the cases are connected.

“We have seen a marked increase in the percent positivity rate. For the past week alone the percent of positive tests to total tests for COVID-19 was 13.6%,” Dare County Health and Human Services said in a Tuesday update. “We have also seen an increase in coworker to coworker spread of the virus linked to staff gatherings and meetings.”

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As of Tuesday, the total COVID-19 positive case count in Dare County is 1,560, of which there are 113 active cases among residents of Dare County. Of the 1,560 cases, 1,026 are residents and 534 are non-residents. Currently, 11 residents are hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19.

Controlling the Spread

The vast majority of new cases of COVID-19 in Dare County are linked to direct contact between close friends, co-workers and families. You can protect yourself and others and help reduce the spread of this virus by practicing the 3Ws – wear a mask, wait six feet apart from others and wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. Even though our close family, co-workers, and friends are the people we often feel most comfortable with and “safest” around, contact tracing is showing that the virus is spreading most between these individuals and not from the brief interactions at the grocery store or in retail or commercial settings. Whether visiting a neighbor or friend, or at work, please be sure to wear a mask and maintain at least 6 ft of physical distance from individuals who you do not share a household with.

COVID-19 Vaccine

The health department is continuing to vaccinate frontline healthcare workers whose duties put them at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 or who are vital to the initial COVID-19 vaccine response (priority Group 1a). They expect to remain in this Prioritization Group for approximately 2 more weeks.

Information on the vaccination plan is rapidly evolving. The CDC has recently made changes to their published vaccine prioritization groups, however Dare County is required to follow the direction of NC DHHS on the prioritization groups. If the state changes the prioritization groups for NC, Dare County will follow those changes. Dare County is not permitted to locally change the prioritization groups.

When registration opens for the general public according to the required Prioritization Groups we will post that information on our Vaccine webpage which can be found at www.darenc.com/covidvaccine. Please visit this site for the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccine or visit the NC DHHS website at www.covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines.

Key Metrics

Each week, health officials review the 4 key metrics associated with disease investigation and surveillance. The metrics are:

Number of Tests

Confirmed Cases

Positive Tests as a Percent of Total Tests

COVID Like Illness Surveillance

This past week there were 1,118 COVID-19 diagnostic tests performed in Dare County. This brings the total number of tests performed since early March to 25,346. There were 152 positive cases between December 21 and December 27. The percent of positive tests to overall tests in Dare County since we started testing in early March increased to 6.04%. The percent of positive tests to total tests for the past week alone was 13.6%. Syndromic surveillance of the emergency department and urgent care centers showed an increase in individuals presenting with COVID like symptoms in the early part of the week.

Testing

Health officials strongly encourage anyone who is experiencing symptoms to be tested as well as anyone who may have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19. Testing is widely available in Dare County. Please visit www.darenc.com/covidtesting for details on testing locations.

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.