Dare County sees fifth highest week of new COVID-19 cases since pandemic began

Health officials say Dare County continues to see a “rapid increase” in positive COVID-19 cases, with 165 cases reported over the past week and a test positivity rate of over 19%.

The number marks the 5th highest week of new positive cases since the pandemic began, health officials said, with the same week last year having a total of 43 positive cases. Of the 165 new cases last week:

  • 139 (84%) are symptomatic
  • 86 (62%) acquired the virus by direct contact with unvaccinated individuals who were positive for COVID-19.
  • 54 (33%) do not know how they acquired the virus
  • 37 were breakthrough cases (1 had Astrazeneca; 6 had J&J vaccine; 14 had Moderna, 16 had Pfizer).
  • Currently, there are 104 active COVID-19 cases among residents of Dare County. Two residents and two non-residents are hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19.

Dare County is experiencing an elevated level of community transmission of the COVID-19 virus, health officials say, and is in the red category on the CDC’s Level of Community Transmission map. Red indicates a high level of community transmission of the virus. The percent of positive COVID-19 tests to total COVID-19 tests in Dare County last week was 19.7%.

More from Dare County Health and Human Services:

Breakthrough Cases

When an individual tests positive for COVID-19 more than two weeks after receiving the final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine that is considered a breakthrough case. Vaccine breakthrough cases are expected. COVID-19 vaccines are effective and are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control. However, no vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness in vaccinated people. There will be a small percentage of fully vaccinated people who still get sick, are hospitalized, or die from COVID-19. According to the CDC, there is evidence that vaccination may make illness less severe for those who are vaccinated and still get sick.

Since the week of April 12th when the first breakthrough case was reported, there have been 646 positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Dare County with 87 of those cases being identified as breakthrough cases. Of the 87 breakthrough cases:

61 residents and 26 non-residents

22 had the J&J vaccine

35 had the Moderna vaccine

29 had the Pfizer vaccine

1 had Astrazeneca

The majority of breakthrough cases were asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic; 1 hospitalizations

The whole numbers provided above are for informational purposes and not an indication of effectiveness of one vaccine compared to the others. Of note, the Moderna vaccine has been the predominant vaccine administered by Dare DHHS. The breakdown of the COVID 19 vaccines administered by Dare DHHS are: 5% J&J, 24% Pfizer and 71% Moderna.

The FDA and CDC are evaluating whether booster or additional doses of the COVID vaccine would provide additional protection. At this time booster doses are not being encouraged or recommended. We will update the public if that guidance changes.

COVID Vaccinations in Dare

All individuals 12 years of age and over are encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccination. COVID-19 vaccinations are readily available at numerous locations throughout the county including the health department and many area pharmacies like: Walgreens, CVS, Sunshine Family Pharmacy, Island Pharmacy, Bear Drugs, and Beach Pharmacy.

Since late December 2020, a total of 23,854 (64%) of eligible Dare County residents have received an initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 22,631 (61%) are fully vaccinated.

Protect Yourself and Your Family

NC DHHS epidemiological data indicates the state and Dare County are in the middle of another surge of COVID-19 infections. The Delta variant is believed to be the most prevalent variant in Dare County at this time. The CDC and NC DHHS indicate it is a significantly more contagious variant. For every one person infected by the Delta variant it is estimated they may spread the virus to 6 other individuals. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19. People who are vaccinated are far less likely to get infected with COVID-19 than those who are not vaccinated. Based on self-reports during contact tracing interviews, in the low percentage of breakthrough cases, individuals who are vaccinated are experiencing mild to no symptoms.

In addition to getting vaccinated, other ways you can protect yourself and your family include limiting prolonged direct contact with unvaccinated individuals who do not live in your household, and washing your hands frequently with soap and water or using hand sanitizer. It is also recommended that all individuals in Dare County wear a mask indoors, as Dare County is currently considered an area of high community transmission.

Key Metrics

Each week we 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 839 COVID-19 diagnostic tests reported in Dare County. This brings the total number of tests performed since early March of last year to 43.702. There were 165 positive cases between July 26 and August 1. The percentage of positive tests to overall tests in Dare County since we started testing in March 2020 increased to 8.39%. The percent of positive tests to total tests for the past week increased to 19.7%. Syndromic surveillance of individuals presenting with COVID like symptoms to the emergency department and urgent care centers showed an increase in activity. These graphs can be found on the Dare County website at www.darenc.com/covid19.

Communications and Information Sharing

Dare County DHHS has an established schedule of communication to share information regarding COVID-19. Every Tuesday, a written update which includes the previous week’s COVID-19 key metrics is issued. Additional updates will be released as needed. All released videos and written updates can be found on our website, DHHS facebook page, Dare County Twitter page, and Dare Emergency Management Twitter page. If you would like to receive these updates directly to your email, please sign up to receive our enotifications.

New positive cases are updated on the dashboard and on our website and shared on the DHHS facebook page each Tuesday. To find the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 cases in Dare County visit www.darenc.com/covid19. State COVID-19 data is available at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard.

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