9/15/20: DARE REPORTS ANOTHER SPIKE IN COVID-19 CASES, CONFIRMS DIRECT CONTACT AS PRIMARY MEANS OF VIRUS TRANSMISSION, AND URGES PEOPLE TO RESPECT QUARANTINING.

Dare County reported today another spike in COVID-19 cases locally, with five more cases being announced by health officials, one of them a non-resident woman age 65 or older who has been hospitalized.

The county health department also confirmed today that direct contact, often with an infected family member or an intimate, is the predominant means by which COVID-19 has been transmitted to people recently diagnosed locally with the disease.

Of the five new cases reported today, only one is a Dare County resident: a man between the ages of 25 and 49 who is in home isolation. Besides the 65+ nonresident, who is hospitalized outside of the area, the other nonresidents are all between the ages of 25 to 49 and are in isolation. Two men are isolating in their home counties, while a woman is isolating in Dare County.

In its update today of new COVID-19 cases reported since last Friday, the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services stated that 80 percent of the 20 cases—13 on the weekend, two yesterday, and five today—definitely acquired the virus from a family member, a close contact, or through direct contact with someone who was not an intimate, but was known to have tested positive for COVID-19, either in Dare County or outside of the area.

The DCDHHS could not determine through contact tracing how four of the 20 cases, or 20 percent—all of whom are nonresidents—acquired the virus. Of these four, the DCDHHS said only that it is “unclear” how they contracted COVID-19.

RESPECTING QUARANTINES

The DCDHHS also stressed in today’s update the importance of quarantining as a preventive measure.

“We continue to see the predominant way COVID-19 is spreading in our community is through direct contact,” it stated. “[Quarantining is a powerful public health tool to help reduce the spread of infectious diseases.] We use quarantining to separate individuals who have been exposed to a person who has a laboratory-confirmed positive test for COVID-19. The quarantine period is for 14 days from the date of last exposure to the positive individual.”

DCDHHS said that it is “critical” for people who have been notified by the county health department that they are direct contacts of confirmed positive cases to “stay in quarantine for the entire 14-day period, even if you have a negative test.”

Just this week, according to the DCDHHS, several new positive COVID-19 cases arose because the individuals had contact with someone in quarantine. The quarantined person tested negative for COVID-19 on Day 3, but became symptomatic by Day 10 and then tested positive.

If you are unaware that a negative COVID-19 test can be a false negative, just as a positive COVID-19 test can be a false positive, you have not done your homework.

The DCDHHS cautioned that violating a quarantine order can result in a misdemeanor charge, the conviction of which carries a penalty of up to two years’ imprisonment, but it also acknowledged that enforcement is difficult. The health department does not monitor people in quarantine.

“Individuals must do the right thing,” the DCDHHS urged, “by being responsible and showing concern for others.”

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 9/15/20

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