Dare County experiencing widespread COVID-19 transmission; 134 cases reported since Friday

Dare County is experiencing widespread community transmission of the COVID-19 virus, with 134 new cases reported since Friday.

Dare County is in the red category on the CDC’s Level of Community Transmission map, indicating high levels of virus spread. The percentage of positive COVID-19 tests to total COVID-19 tests in Dare County last week was 20.2%, Dare County Health and Human Services reported in its Tuesday update.

“All individuals, regardless of vaccination status, ages 5 and over should wear a mask when indoors in public settings,” the health department said. “All individuals should consider wearing a mask when outside if gathering in large crowds. Individuals ages 12 and over should get vaccinated for COVID-19 to help prevent serious illness, hospitalizations and death.”

The total number of new positive cases reported in Dare County for last week was 217, which marks the third highest week of new positive cases since the pandemic began. During the same week last year, there were a total of 21 new positive cases reported in Dare County and a 2.8% positivity rate.

Of the 217 new cases last week:

199 (92%) are symptomatic

167 (22%) acquired the virus by direct contact with someone who was positive for COVID-19.

50 were breakthrough cases (1 had Astrazeneca; 9 had J&J vaccine; 22 had Moderna, 18 had Pfizer).

Dare health officials will begin daily case count updates due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in the county. As of Tuesday evening, there were 128 active COVID-19 cases among residents of Dare County and eight individuals hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19, one a county resident and seven non-residents.

More from the Dare Department of 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 863 positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Dare County with 137 of those cases being identified as breakthrough cases. Of the 137 breakthrough cases:

88 residents and 49 non-residents

89 reported mild symptoms and 5 reported moderate symptoms

1 is hospitalized

31 had the J&J vaccine

52 had the Moderna vaccine

52 had the Pfizer vaccine

2 had Astrazeneca

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.

Delta Variant

According to the CDC and NC DHHS, the Delta variant causes more infections and spreads faster than early forms of SARS-CoV-2. Preliminary data indicates:

The Delta variant is more contagious

The Delta variant might cause more severe illness than previous strains in unvaccinated persons.

Unvaccinated people remain the greatest concern

Fully vaccinated people with Delta variant breakthrough infections can spread the virus to others. However, vaccinated people appear to be infectious for a shorter period

Currently, a random sample of positive COVID-10 specimens are being sequenced by the Vidant Medical laboratory and the state laboratory to assess for variants. County specific data is not available, however Dare County’s specimens are included in the regional data released by Vidant Medical. In the COVID-19 weekly released today by Vidant Medical, the Delta variant was present in 177 of the 186 (95%) specimens sequenced.

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.

Individuals ages 12 and over should get vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Studies have shown that vaccination provides a strong boost in protection in people who have recovered from COVID-19. If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Since late December 2020, a total of 24,336 (66%) of eligible Dare County residents have received an initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 22,799 (62%) 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 1,074 COVID-19 diagnostic tests reported in Dare County. This brings the total number of tests performed since early March of last year to 44,776. There were 217 positive cases between August 2 and August 8. The percentage of positive tests to overall tests in Dare County since we started testing in March 2020 increased to 8.68%. The percent of positive tests to total tests for the past week increased to 20.2%. 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.

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