Dare County sees highest number of weekly COVID-19 cases since pandemic began

Dare County health officials on Tuesday reported the highest number of new weekly COVID-19 cases, a total of 279, since the pandemic began in March 2020.

The percentage of positive COVID-19 tests to total COVID-19 tests in Dare County last week was 22.5%, Dare County Health and Human Services said in its weekly update.

Dare County remains red on the Center for Disease Control’s COVID-transmission map for high community transmission

“All individuals, regardless of vaccination status, ages 5 and over should wear a mask when indoors in public settings. 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 update said.

Of the 279 new cases last week:

  • 233 (84%) are symptomatic
  • 212 (76%) acquired the virus by direct contact with someone who was positive for COVID-19.
  • 227 (81%) were not vaccinated. Of the 52 vaccinated cases: 11 had J&J vaccine; 23 had Moderna, 18 had Pfizer).

On Tuesday, there are 168 active COVID-19 cases among residents of Dare County, with 17  hospitalized due to complications from virus. Of those, 15 are residents and two non-residents.

Over the past week, 1,242 diagnostic COVID-19 tests were performed in the county, with 279 positive cases between Sept. 6 and Sept. 12. The percentage of positive tests to overall tests in Dare County since we started testing in March 2020 increased to 10.06%. The percent of positive tests to total tests for the past week remains high at 22.5%. Syndromic surveillance of individuals presenting with COVID like symptoms to the emergency department and urgent care centers showed an increase in activity from the previous week. These graphs can be found on the Dare County website at www.darenc.com/covid19.

The reported positive cases only include laboratory confirmed cases reported by medical providers, urgent care centers, the hospital, or the state, which includes tests performed at area pharmacies. Self-reported, over the counter, home tests are not counted in the reported count totals, however contact tracing is conducted for the positive self reported cases, the health department said. If an individual tests positive more than once (i.e. retests and still positive) it is only counted as one case.

More from the health department update:

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 2,143 positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Dare County. 1,731 (81%) of those cases were not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated. Of the 412 breakthrough cases:

246 residents and 166 non-residents

171 were asymptomatic; 208 reported mild symptoms and 30 reported moderate symptoms

1 was hospitalized

0 deaths

88 had the J&J vaccine

167 had the Moderna vaccine

155 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.

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 25,449 (69%) of eligible Dare County residents have received an initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 23,971 (65%) are fully vaccinated.

Booster Dose Information

We are waiting on information from the FDA and NCDHHS regarding booster (3rd doses) for individuals who were fully vaccinated with an mRNA COVID vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) at least 8 months ago. We are in the process of organizing multiple vaccine clinics to be hosted in late September, October and November to provide booster doses based on the criteria that will be released from the FDA and NC DHHS. Registration is not open yet for these clinics. We will share information on when the registration process will begin for these clinics as soon as it is available. At this time, registration is only open for those who can attest to moderate to severe immune compromise.

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 1,242 COVID-19 diagnostic tests reported in Dare County. This brings the total number of tests performed since early March of last year to 51,335. There were 279 positive cases between September 6 and September 12. The percentage of positive tests to overall tests in Dare County since we started testing in March 2020 increased to 10.06%. The percent of positive tests to total tests for the past week remains high at 22.5%. Syndromic surveillance of individuals presenting with COVID like symptoms to the emergency department and urgent care centers showed an increase in activity from the previous week. 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.