DCDHHS’ COVID-19 Update #66 | Friday, December 4, 2020

DCDHHS’ COVID-19 Update #66
Friday, December 4, 2020
4:00 p.m.

Dare County COVID-19 Case Update

The number of positive COVID-19 tests in Dare County is 1,133, of which there are 91 active cases among residents of Dare County. Of the 1,133 cases, 724 are residents and 409 are non-residents.  Ten residents and 2 non-residents are hospitalized from complications associated with COVID-19.

Since the last Dare County DHHS Update issued Tuesday, December 1, 2020, there have been 66  new positive cases. Of these 66 cases, 45 are residents and 21 are non-residents. Non-residents are individuals who do not have a permanent Dare County address listed on their license or identification card. This includes individuals who live in nearby counties, individuals who are temporarily living in Dare County for work or other related purposes, and visitors. The Dare County website has already been updated to reflect all of these cases.

Of the 45 new resident cases since Tuesday, December 1st:

  • 2 of the cases are connected. Both are symptomatic and acquired the virus by direct contact with an individual whose positive test result was reported on 11/28

  • 2 of the cases are family members. Both are symptomatic and acquired the virus by direct contact with an individual who tested positive outside of Dare County.

  • 27 of the cases are not connected. 21 are symptomatic and 6 are asymptomatic. All acquired the virus by direct contact with individuals whose positive test results were reported between 11/26 and 12/2.

  • 14 of the cases are not connected. All are symptomatic. It is unclear how these individuals acquired the virus.

Of the 21 new non-resident cases since Tuesday, December 1st:

  • 14 of the cases are not connected. 10 are symptomatic and 4 are asymptomatic. All acquired the virus by direct contact with individuals who tested positive outside of Dare County.

  • 7 of the cases are not connected. All are symptomatic. It is unclear how these individuals acquired the virus.

Contact tracing has been completed on 62 new cases and direct contacts provided by these individuals have been identified, notified, and directed to quarantine. We are working with the other 4 individuals to identify and notify their direct contacts.

Quarantine Guidance Changes

On December 2, 2020, CDC released guidance outlining options for reduced duration of quarantine for contacts of persons with COVID-19 using symptom monitoring and diagnostic testing. While the recommended quarantine period continues to be 14 days, current data demonstrate that about 98% of exposed persons will develop illness within 10 days. Thus, the quarantine period could be shortened, possibly increasing compliance, with a small increased risk of transmission. Effective, 12/4/2020 Dare County will follow the new quarantine guidance from the CDC and NC DHHS.

In the general community, quarantine can be ended if any of the following criteria are met:

• 14 days of quarantine have been completed

• 10 days of quarantine have been completed AND no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring

 • 7 days of quarantine have been completed AND no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring AND a diagnostic specimen tests negative within 48 hours of the planned quarantine discontinuation (no earlier than day 5 after last contact).

If quarantine is discontinued before day 14, the individual must continue to monitor symptoms and strictly adhere to all non-pharmaceutical interventions (e.g. wear a mask, practice social distancing) through 14 days after the date of last exposure.

The updated CDC quarantine guidance notes that variability of SARS-CoV-2 transmission observed to-date indicates that while a shorter quarantine substantially reduces secondary transmission risk, there may be settings (e.g., with high contact rates) where even a small risk of post-quarantine transmission could still result in substantial secondary clusters. Based on this consideration, NCDHHS recommends that a full 14-day quarantine should be strongly considered in congregate living facilities that are at higher risk for secondary clusters or where residents may be at higher risk for severe illness. This includes nursing homes, residential care facilities, and correctional facilities.

COVID-19 Vaccine 

Dare County Department of Health and Human Services has been working closely with the state for the past couple of months on the county COVID vaccination plan. The county plan is directed by the state and federal government. While there are still numerous details which are not finalized, and cannot be until we receive further direction from the state, we are providing some general information at this time since we know many people have questions.

This month, the Food and Drug Administration and their external advisory committee will review two vaccines (one from Pfizer and one from Moderna). The vaccine must go through and pass clinical trials like other drugs and vaccines. For the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, more than 70,000 people combined participated in clinical trials to see if the vaccines are safe and if they can effectively prevent someone from getting COVID-19.

The people who make the decision about whether or not to authorize the use of these new vaccines are career scientists, not political appointees. The vaccine authorization process is independent and transparent.

Looking at the vaccines themselves, there is no COVID-19 virus in these vaccines. The vaccine imitates the infection, so that our bodies think a germ like the virus is attacking. This creates the antibody defenses we need to fight off COVID if and when the real germ attacks.

Once a vaccine is authorized for use, supplies will be very limited at first. Independent federal and state groups of experts determined that the best way to fight COVID is to start first with vaccinations for those most at risk.

Therefore, the initial supply of vaccines will go to a limited number of hospitals to vaccinate health care workers at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 – those who are caring for or cleaning areas used by patients with COVID-19.  Because of the limited initial vaccine supply, not all hospitals will receive the vaccine initially.  We do not know at this time when our local hospital will receive the vaccine. As more of the vaccine becomes available, it will be distributed to more of the state’s hospitals and to local health departments to focus on vaccinating high risk health care workers.  We have been informed that it will likely be some time in January before our local health department will receive our first shipment of the vaccine.

Long-term care staff and residents will also be in the first group to receive the vaccine. Vaccinations at skilled nursing facilities and adult care homes are being managed by the federal government through a partnership with CVS and Walgreens. Vaccines used in long-term care will come from the state’s allotment.

We hope by early 2021 that our local health department will start vaccinating other adults who are at high risk for complications, meaning they have two or more chronic conditions identified by the CDC and who are at higher risk for exposure.  As we receive more information about the specific timeline and who may be vaccinated we will share that with the public. At this time, we are not taking names or making any appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine.

While clinical trials are showing safety and effectiveness for adults, children will not initially receive vaccines as clinical trials with children are needed to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Controlling the Spread

COVID-19 remains a very contagious virus. We cannot stress enough the importance of everyone doing their part to reduce the spread of this virus by using the proven tools available – the 3 Ws. Please be responsible, protect yourself and others by following the 3Ws:

  • Wear a cloth face covering if you will be with other people.

  • Wait 6 feet apart. Avoid close contact.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer

Testing

We strongly encourage anyone who is experiencing symptoms to be tested as well as anyone who may have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19. Testing is widely available in Dare County. Please visit www.darenc.com/covidtesting for details on testing locations .

If you have questions about testing or locations please visit www.darenc.com/covidtesting or call the COVID-19 call center, open Monday – Friday from 8:30 am – 5 pm at 252-475-5008.

Communications and Information Sharing

Dare County DHHS has an established schedule of communication to share information regarding COVID-19. On Tuesdays, we release a written update and a video update which includes an overview of the previous week’s COVID-19 key metrics is issued. On Fridays a written update is issued. All released videos and written updates can be found on our website, DHHS facebook pageDare 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 on our website and shared on the DHHS facebook page when we receive them. 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.

Contact Us

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.