By Dare County Health and Human Services
Dare County continues to experience widespread community transmission of the COVID-19 virus and remains in the red category on the CDC’s Level of Community Transmission map. Red indicates a high level of community transmission of the virus. Overall, new case numbers dropped this week, as well as the weekly percentage of positive COVID-19 tests to total COVID-19 tests. We are hopeful with continued practice of mitigation measures, including getting vaccinated, masking, physical distancing and good hand hygiene, we will continue to see new case numbers decrease.
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 total number of new positive cases reported in Dare County for the past week was 177. Of the 177 new cases last week:
154 (87%) are symptomatic
145 (82%) acquired the virus by direct contact with someone who was positive for COVID-19.
134 (76%) were not vaccinated. Of the 43 vaccinated cases: 11 had J&J vaccine; 15 had Moderna, 17 had Pfizer).
Currently, there are 124 active COVID-19 cases among residents of Dare County. There are 16 individuals hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19 (14 residents and 2 non-residents).
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. If an individual tests positive more than once (i.e. retests and still positive) it is only counted as one case.
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 2,320 positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Dare County. 1,865 (80%) of those cases were not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated. Of the 455 breakthrough cases:
264 residents and 191 non-residents
176 were asymptomatic; 221 reported mild symptoms and 33 reported moderate symptoms
1 was hospitalized
99 had the J&J vaccine
182 had the Moderna vaccine
172 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 25,736 (70%) of eligible Dare County residents have received an initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 24,236 (65%) are fully vaccinated.
Booster Dose Information
Following up on the FDA meeting last week, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will meet this Thursday (9/23) regarding booster (3rd doses) for individuals who were fully vaccinated with the Pfizer mRNA COVID vaccine at least 6 months ago. We will share information 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.
Each week we review the 4 key metrics associated with disease investigation and surveillance. The metrics are:
Number of Tests
Positive Tests as a Percent of Total Tests
COVID Like Illness Surveillance
This past week there were 1,112 COVID-19 diagnostic tests reported in Dare County. This brings the total number of tests performed since early March of last year to 52,447. There were 177 positive cases between September 13 and September 19. The percentage of positive tests to overall tests in Dare County since we started testing in March 2020 increased to 10.2%. The percentage of positive tests to total tests for the past week has decreased from the previous week, however, remains high at 15.9%. Syndromic surveillance of individuals presenting with COVID like symptoms to the emergency department and urgent care centers showed a decrease in activity from the previous week. 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 Monday- Friday. 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.
We encourage you to stay informed by visiting www.darenc.com/covid19 or by visiting the CDC or NC DHHS websites. If you have specific needs or questions you may also call the Dare County COVID-19 call center open Monday-Friday from 8:30 to 5:00 at 252-475-5008.
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.