The number of new COVID-19 cases and the percent of positive tests to total tests both increased again this past week.
Dare County remains in the red category on the CDC’s Level of Community Transmission map, which indicates a high level of community transmission of the virus. 96 of the 100 counties in NC are in the red category.
While Dare County remains an area of widespread 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 5 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 167. The majority of new cases were acquired by direct contact with friends or family members who were positive or symptomatic. Clusters of viral spread have also been noted within a few churches, youth sport teams and from gatherings of children at sleepovers and indoor parties. Of the 167 new cases last week:
- 144 (86%) are symptomatic
- 147 (88%) acquired the virus by direct contact with someone who was positive for COVID-19.
- 129 (77%) were not vaccinated. Of the 38 vaccinated cases: 10 had J&J vaccine; 17 had Moderna, and 11 had Pfizer).
Currently, there are 162 active COVID-19 cases among residents of Dare County. There are 11 residents hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19.
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.
NCDHHS Secretarial Advisory
NCDHHS issued a Secretarial Advisory, yesterday, Monday December 20, 2021. A few highlights from this advisory included:
- COVID-19 cases are currently rising in North Carolina due to the Delta variant.
- Omicron is beginning to spread rapidly and is expected to cause the highest rates of COVID-19 infections of the pandemic in the coming weeks.
- The Omicron variant is two to three times as contagious as the Delta variant, making it four to six times as contagious as the original COVID- 19 virus.
- Vaccinating and boosting against COVID-19 remain the most effective ways for people to protect themselves from serious illness, hospitalization and death. Early evidence shows that boosters provide a significant level of protection against Omicron.
The Advisory also included recommendations for holiday gatherings and can be viewed in full by clicking here.
To support testing prior to holiday travel and or when returning from travel, NC DHHS is offering free home testing kits. Tests can be ordered online and shipped directly to your home by registering using this link https://www.ondemand.labcorp.com/nc
When an individual tests positive for COVID-19 two weeks or later from 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 3,688 positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Dare County. 2,905 (79%) of those cases were not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated. Of the 763 breakthrough cases:
- 481 residents and 282 non-residents
- 288 were asymptomatic; 299 reported mild symptoms and 53 reported moderate symptoms
- 4 were hospitalized
- 1 death
- 155 had the J&J vaccine
- 320 had the Moderna vaccine
- 285 had the Pfizer vaccine
- 3 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 5 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 5 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 27,170 (73%) of eligible Dare County residents have received an initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 25,932 (70%) are fully vaccinated.
COVID-19 Booster Dose Information
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended booster vaccine shots for all individuals ages 16 and older to help strengthen and extend protections against COVID-19.
If you received the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you can get your booster dose six months after your second shot. If you received the J&J vaccine you can get your booster two months after your shot.
Dare County Department of Health & Human Services offers Moderna booster vaccines. Below you will find a breakdown of where Dare County residents can receive first, second and booster doses.
First, Second or Booster Dose of Moderna
You may call your area pharmacy or call our Clinical Services team at 252.475.5003 (select option #2, leave a message if you reach voicemail).
First Dose or Booster Dose of J&J
Call your area pharmacy.
First, Second or Booster Dose of Pfizer
Call your area pharmacy.
For more information or questions about COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses, please visit www.darenc.com.COVID/vaccine
Flu and COVID-19
Unlike COVID-19, influenza, seasonal flu, is not classified as a required reportable disease, however health departments, area medical providers and hospitals monitor flu activity through syndromic surveillance. Reports from the Outer Banks Hospital and area medical providers, as well as data from the NC DHHS, indicates that while influenza circulation remains low overall, increased numbers of influenza A (H2N2) have been detected locally and across the state in recent weeks. Additionally, there have been a handful of locally reported cases of co-occurring influenza A and COVID-19 infections. Historically, influenza A(H3N2) predominant seasons have often been associated with more severe flu seasons, especially among older adults and young children. While the intensity of the 2021-22 influenza season is uncertain, given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic there is risk for stressing the healthcare system with both viruses circulating.
Individuals ages 6 months and older are encouraged to get vaccinated for influenza. You may contact the health department, pharmacy or area healthcare provider to get your vaccine. Vaccination is the best way to reduce the spread of influenza and can lower the risk of severe illness resulting in hospitalizations and deaths. Flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same visit. While it is unknown what the vaccine effectiveness of this year’s influenza vaccine will be, the A(H3N2) component was recently updated and is genetically similar to A(H3N2) viruses currently circulating.
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 907 COVID-19 diagnostic tests reported in Dare County. This brings the total number of tests reported since early March of last year to 62,253. There were 167 positive cases between December 13 and December 19. The percentage of positive tests to overall tests in Dare County since we started testing in March 2020 has been relatively stable for the past seven weeks. This past week was 10.92%. The percentage of positive tests to total tests for the past week increased from the previous week to 18.41%. Syndromic surveillance of individuals presenting with COVID like symptoms to the emergency department and urgent care show low levels of 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 this week will be updated on the dashboard and on our website and shared on the DHHS facebook page Wednesday (12/22), Thursday (12/23) and Monday (12/27). 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.