Dare County had reported a total of 246 COVID-19 cases when Dr. Sheila Davies, director of the health department, posted her videotaped update yesterday. Of those 246, 140 are Dare County residents, and 106 are nonresidents.

What we find most significant about the case reporting of the past week is that two more local people were hospitalized with the disease, bringing the total current hospitalizations among Dare County residents to three.

According to Dr. Davies, two of these residents are hospitalized outside of the area. One nonresident is also hospitalized.

There also was a 71-percent increase during the past week in the number of people age 65 and older who tested positive locally for COVID-19.

On Friday, July 10, the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services dashboard showed that 14 people in the higher-risk over-65 age group had contracted COVID-19. As of yesterday, the number was 24. Overall, the age breakdown in the 246 cases is as follows:

Ages 17 and under: 38

Ages 18 to 24: 70

Ages 25 to 49: 78

Ages 50 to 64: 36

Ages 65+: 24

Based on the dashboard data, we roughly estimate the average number of cases being reported each day in Dare County to be 10.

According to Dr. Davies’s detailing of COVID-19 transmission, the majority of the people who have tested positive are being infected by direct contact with a person who has the virus.

Although she drew attention in her report yesterday to “an increased trend over the past few days of individuals who are unaware how they acquired the virus”—an indication, she said, of “an increase in community spread”—Dr. Davies’s recent numbers show that spread allegedly accounted for a little more than a third of the cases.

Just because people do not know how they acquired the virus does not rule out infection by direct contact.

The COVID-19 antibody testing that the Dare County DHHS is doing in partnership with Mako Medical Laboratories of Raleigh, so far, is turning up few positives.

According to Dr. Davies, 194 antibody tests were conducted of people who participated in Tuesday’s testing event, and only five proved positive.

The next COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody testing clinic will be held Tuesday, July 28, starting at 1 p.m., at the Dare County Center, 950 Marshall Collins Drive, in Manteo. You may schedule an appointment for the clinic, for one or both tests, by calling 252 475-5008, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

COVID-19 STATEWIDE: We continue to monitor the key COVID-19 metrics on the state level, which are still moving in the wrong direction. Single-day case reports and hospitalizations continue to be high, with single-day hospitalization records being set and then quickly broken.

Today’s single-day case report of 2,481 is a new record high. Yesterday’s reported 1,180 hospitalizations also marked a record. Today, hospitalizations have been reduced by 26, to 1,154.

The single-day case reports have hovered around 2,000 since July 9. Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, has said at media briefings that increased testing alone cannot account for the increased number of cases.

The positivity test rate continues to be consistently below 10 percent, which is a good sign. But Dr. Cohen would like to see the rate of positive COVID-19 tests from among the number of tests completed to be 5 percent or lower. The last time this metric dipped to that level was June 30

The NCDHHS dashboard today reports 1,629 deaths statewide.

We do not usually comment on individual behavior, but today we will say that until people “get” that it is the spread of COVID-19 that must be slowed, if not stopped, before the country can reopen and begin to function normally again, we will be stuck on the “pause” button, and cases and deaths will continue to climb.

Those people who believe that having to wear a mask and to observe physical distancing infringes upon their constitutional rights do not understand public health or the U.S. Constitution, which does not afford them the protection they think. (Talk to the ACLU, not The Beacon.) They are just hurting themselves.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 7/18/20

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