DCDHHS COVID-19 Update #71 | Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Dare County Department of Health & Human Services, COVID-19 Update

DCDHHS COVID-19 Update #71
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
5:00 p.m.

Dare County COVID-19 Update

Yesterday marked a rather extraordinary day as our department received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccinations. Starting this week and continuing over the next couple of weeks we will be vaccinating front line healthcare workers whose duties put them at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 or who are vital to the initial COVID-19 vaccine response (priority Group 1a). We have been working hard to prepare for this and are excited to add this new tool to our COVID-19 defense toolbox. In time, everyone who wishes to receive a vaccine will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccinations at no cost. We ask for your patience as we work through the Prioritization groups that we are required to follow according to NC DHHS. Please visit our website to follow the latest news on the COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Dare County, which includes which Priority Group we are currently vaccinating.

If you are interested in following the total number of COVID-19 doses distributed in the United States, as well as the number of doses administered you can find this information on the CDC website at https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations. As of yesterday 4,624,325 doses have been distributed and 614,117 doses have been administered in the US. The state has a similar vaccine reporting dashboard which can be found at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard/vaccinations. As of this morning, 24,500 doses have been administered in North Carolina. Please note the COVID-19 vaccine is a 2 dose vaccine so these figures reflect initial doses. The second dose is administered 21 or 28 days after the first dose, depending on whether you receive the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine.

While the COVID-19 vaccination will be a powerful tool, in time, to help stem the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that we all continue to use the other tools of protection as this virus remains highly contagious and debilitating to many. Please follow the 3ws (wear, wait and wash) to protect yourself and others.

I have heard concerns that some people don’t think these measures work. The claims are that if these tools were working then we wouldn’t be seeing the rise in cases we are seeing, not only in Dare but across the state and nation. Many have stated they see great compliance with masks and social distancing when they go to the stores or restaurants, which is wonderful and which may explain why we are not seeing any significant spread linked to those settings. But if you look at the predominant way this virus is spreading, you will find that in settings like homes, work conference rooms and break rooms, dinner parties, and wedding receptions and funerals, we are not seeing good adherence to wearing masks and social distancing. Just this past week, out of our 113 new cases, 82, or 73%, contracted the virus by direct contact in one of the above mentioned settings. Please understand, this message is intended to educate, not shame or blame. It is human nature to want to gather with others, but what is not natural for us is wearing a mask or social distancing when we gather with our close friends, co-workers and family members. These are typically the people we feel most comfortable and safe with but unfortunately the data is showing us these gatherings are the major drivers of the increase in new COVID-19 infections. So, if you are gathering with individuals outside of your immediate household, whether at work or at home, please practice the 3Ws.

Dare County COVID-19 Case Update

The total COVID-19 positive case count in Dare County is 1,423 of which there are 103 active cases among residents of Dare County. Of the 1,423 cases, 934 are residents and 489 are non-residents. Currently, 8 residents are hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19.

Since the last Dare County DHHS Update issued Friday, December 18, 2020, there have been 95 new positive cases. Of the 95 new cases since December 18th, 70 are residents and 25 are non-residents.

Of the 70 resident cases since Friday, December 18th:

  • 9 of the cases are connected. All are symptomatic and acquired the virus by direct contact with individuals who positive test results were reported on 12/15 and 12/18.

  • 3 of the cases are connected. Two are symptomatic and one is asymptomatic. All acquired the virus by direct contact with an individual who tested positive on 12/15.

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

  • 5 of the cases are not connected. 3 are symptomatic and 2 are asymptomatic. All acquired the virus by direct contact with individuals who tested positive outside of Dare County.

  • 38 cases are not connected. 33 are symptomatic and 5 are asymptomatic. All acquired the virus by direct contact with individuals whose positive test results were reported between 12/8 – 12/19.

  • 13 of the cases are not connected. 10 are symptomatic and 3 are asymptomatic. It is unclear how these individuals acquired the virus.

  Of the 25 non-resident cases since Friday, December 18th:

  • 17 of the cases are not connected. 14 are symptomatic and 3 are asymptomatic. All acquired the virus by direct contact with individuals who tested positive outside of Dare County.

  • 8 of the cases are not connected. 6 are symptomatic and 2 are asymptomatic. It is unclear how these individuals acquired the virus.

Contact tracing has been completed on 82 of the new cases and direct contacts provided by these individuals have been identified, notified, and directed to quarantine. We are working with the other 13 individuals to identify and notify their direct contacts.

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 1,276 COVID-19 diagnostic tests performed in Dare County. This brings the total number of tests performed since early March to 24,228.  There were 113 positive cases between December 14 and December 20. The percent of positive tests to overall tests in Dare County since we started testing in early March increased to 5.69%. The percent of positive tests to total tests for the past week alone was 8.86%. Syndromic surveillance of  the emergency department and urgent care centers showed an increase in individuals presenting with COVID like symptoms in the early part of the week. These graphs can be found on the dare county website at www.darenc.com/covid19.

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.

Communications and Information Sharing

Dare County DHHS has an established schedule of communication to share information regarding COVID-19. Due to the upcoming holidays, written releases and videos will be issued on Tuesday, December 22, 2020 and Tuesday, December 29, 2020. The update will not be available in Spanish on Tuesday, December 22, 2020.

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 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.