11/17/20: TWO MORE LOCALS HOSPITALIZED WITH COVID-19; DARE COUNTY IS IN THE ‘RED ZONE’ BECAUSE OF CASE SURGE; N.C. Continues to Post Alarming Metrics.

Two Dare County residents in the highest-risk age group were reported yesterday to be hospitalized with COVID-19 by the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services, which has added 39 new COVID-19-positive cases to its dashboard during the past three days.

Also yesterday, Dare County reported a seven-day moving average of 30.5 new COVID-19 cases per day per 100,000 people, according to today’s The Raleigh News & Observer, a figure that puts it in the “red zone” of risk defined by the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Dare joins 41 other N.C. counties in the red zone, The N&O reports, which means they have reached a “tipping point” with 25 or more cases per day per 100,000 people. According to the Harvard researchers, stay-at-home orders are necessary in red-zone areas. Dare is reportedly among the top 20 counties on the red-zone list.

The other lesser zones of risk defined by Harvard and its public-health expert consultants are orange (10 to 24 cases per day per 100,000); yellow (one to nine cases); and green (less than one case). The orange zone shows an “accelerated spread” of COVID-19, a situation that prompts the researchers to advise imposing stay-at-home orders.

When the Harvard tool for mapping the COVID-19 risk by state and county was first released in July, only four of North Carolina’s 100 counties were in the red zone. 

See https://globalepidemics.org/key-metrics-for-covid-suppression/.

The two newly hospitalized Dare County residents are among 10 new COVID-19 cases reported yesterday by the DCDHHS, 80 percent of whom are locals.

They are identified on the dashboard only as a man and a woman age 65 or older. The other eight people who tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus range in age from 17 and under to 65 or older.

The cases reported in Dare County on Sunday reflect similar demographics: Of 10 new COVID-19 cases, seven, or 70 percent, were locals. Most noteworthy in this group of 10 is that three of the COVID-19-positive people are age 17 or younger, and three are age 65 or older. All are in isolation.

The Beacon previously reported that the DCDHHS added 19 cases to its dashboard on Saturday, 17, or 85 percent, of whom are Dare County residents. We announced in the same post that another Dare County resident had died of COVID-19. (See The Beacon, 11/14/20.)  

We expect Dr. Sheila Davies, Director of the DCDHHS, to post her Tuesday update, analyzing the 39 COVID-19 cases reported since Friday, later this afternoon. We will report only the cases added to the dashboard today and any information that Dr. Davies may provide about the recent fatality. We do not imagine that the Dare Public-Health Director will have anything new to add to the “call to action” videotaped message that she issued on Friday.

***    

THE N.C. DEPT. OF HEALTH AND HUMAN RESOURCES is reporting today 3,288 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours and 1,501 COVID-related hospitalizations, as the surge continues statewide. The positivity rate has risen to 8.6 percent, a figure reminiscent of rates in the springtime. These are alarming numbers that may compel Governor Cooper to impose further restrictive measures on businesses and community and social gatherings. 

New COVID-19 cases statewide have increased from a seven-day average of roughly 1,200 in mid-September to 2,700 as of Sunday, according to the NCDHHS. Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the NCDHHS, has said that case counts in rural counties, which were largely spared earlier in the year, are driving the surge.

EVENT RISK ASSESSMENT: How Safe Is Your Thanksgiving Dinner?

Not to be outdone by Harvard, the Georgia Institute of Technology has released a map that enables people to determine what the risk is in their locality of at least one guest at their Thanksgiving gathering being COVID-19-positive.

See GIT’s COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool at: https://covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu/.

Our manipulations of the map show that if you host a Thanksgiving gathering of 50 people in Dare County, you run a 49 percent risk that at least one COVID-19-positive person will attend. If you have just 10 people at your dinner, the risk falls to 12 percent. You can roughly calculate what GIT believes your risk would be for Thanksgiving parties with differing numbers of people.

The bottom line is you cannot assume you are safe from the virus if you invite people to dine with you who are not in your everyday household bubble.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 11/17/20

2 thoughts on “11/17/20: TWO MORE LOCALS HOSPITALIZED WITH COVID-19; DARE COUNTY IS IN THE ‘RED ZONE’ BECAUSE OF CASE SURGE; N.C. Continues to Post Alarming Metrics.

  1. From Above:

    “Also yesterday, Dare County reported a seven-day moving average of 30.5 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, according to today’s The Raleigh News & Observer, a figure that puts it in the “red zone” of risk defined by the Harvard Global Health Institute.

    Dare joins 41 other N.C. counties in the red zone, The N&O reports, which means they have reached a “tipping point” with 25 or more cases per 100,000 people. According to the Harvard researchers, stay-at-home orders are necessary in red-zone areas. Dare is reportedly among the top 20 counties on the red-zone list.”

    On the State of North Carolina DHHS Covid 19 dashboard Dare County is listed as being classified as a code orange.

    The math involved in the State’s criteria was not exactly clear, at least to me; especially the part regarding hospitalizations. The other local internet based news outlet just seems to basically repeat the conclusions of the State without much if any info regarding the criteria used to determine classifications as well as limited clarification regarding the State’s recommendations regarding behavior based on these criteria. It seems we are left to feel our way along in a fog.

    Thanks for your determined reporting about this pandemic. It is a true public service.

    Like

    1. Hi, thanks for writing. I agree with you that the numbers are confusing. A blog I posted today seeks to explain why Harvard has Dare County in the red zone, and the N.C. county risk system only has it in the yellow “tier.” One difference is the cases-per-100,000 threshold used by each system; another is that the Harvard system employs a 7-day moving average to calculate a per-day case total, whereas the N.C. system looks at all cases within the past 14 days. Regardless, there’s an adjustment that occurs. I don’t think the year-round population of Dare County is even 40,000, much less 100,000. Governor Cooper is trying to persuade North Carolinians to be voluntarily compliant with his executive orders, not force them to be so. If the State cites too many “red tier” counties, it may appear too heavy-handed and coercive. It’s politics. The Harvard folks are only concerned about public health. As for COVID-19 hospitalizations, the CDC recently revised its criteria for counting them. Whereas previously only those patients who were in isolation were counted as COVID-19 hospitalizations — which is usually a maximum of 21 days — now COVID-19 patients are counted for as long as they stay in the hospital, regardless of whether they’re in isolation. Hence, the numbers have increased. I hope this helps a little. Thanks again, Ann

      Like

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