Of the 113 Dare County residents newly diagnosed with COVID-19 during the past week, 82 of them, or 73 percent, contracted the virus by direct contact in one of the following settings:
*Work conference room or break room
So says Dr. Sheila Davies, Director of the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services, in her COVID-19 update yesterday. And so said Dr. Davies before, in more than one previous update, echoing what Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, has said numerous times in briefings.
The COVID-19 warnings and explanations about transmission and spread from public-health and governmental officials continue, and still the “metrics” increase, both locally and statewide.
Yesterday again Dr. Cohen asked people in a statement to “please avoid traveling and gathering” during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
“If you absolutely must [travel or gather],” she said, “get tested ahead of time, wear a mask all the time, keep it small and keep it outdoors.”
Governor Roy Cooper asked North Carolinians to change their holiday plans, “if you haven’t already.”
“The best and safest option,” he said in a statement, “is to connect virtually or by phone. But if you gather in-person, keep it small and do it outside.” The remainder of his message echoed Dr. Cohen’s about testing and wearing a mask.
Does anyone believe these warnings will be heeded by people who previously have not heeded them?
As of 4:08 p.m. today, 328,139 people had died of COVID-19 in the United States. At least two new variants of Sars-CoV-2 have been identified, and still people hold and attend superspreader events and talk to their work colleagues in close quarters without wearing masks.
See Coronavirus variants and mutations: the science explained – BBC News
Dr. Davies is still professing to educate people, not “shame or blame” them, and Dr. Cohen is still urging people to “get behind the mask.”
Despite their entreaties, 90 percent of North Carolina’s 100 counties are now in the red or orange zones of community spread of the virus, according to an update yesterday of the COVID-19 county alert system.
Dare County is allegedly in the orange tier or “substantial” community spread tier, but it sure looks red to us. Red indicates a “critical” spread of the virus.
Dare reportedly has a 14-day case rate of 386.4 cases per 100,000 people and a 14-day positivity rate of 8.0 percent.
Since the last county update, neighboring Currituck County has gone red, with a reported 14-day case rate of 515.1 per 100,000 people and a 14-day positivity rate of 14.9 percent.
Hyde County, which includes Ocracoke, is also in the red, with 931.7 cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of 11.0 percent.
Previously, both counties were in the lowest yellow tier, which signifies “significant” viral spread. Only eight counties are currently in the yellow: Chatham, Graham, Greene, Madison, Northampton, Orange (home county to Chapel Hill, which is a ghost town these days), Polk, and Washington counties.
As of today, the NCDHHS is reporting 3,043 people hospitalized across the state for COVID-19 and its complications. That’s a record high number for the state.
Hospitalizations topped 3,000 for the first time yesterday, while new COVID-19 cases statewide topped 8,000 for the first time on Dec. 18 and have remained over 4,000 since Dec. 2.
The average number of new COVID-19 cases reported daily by the NCDHHS in December has been 5,652. The positivity rate has been above 10 percent every day this month except Dec. 8 when the NCDHHS reported it was 9.7 percent.
Deaths now total 6,360 people.
NEW DARE COUNTY CASES UP-CLOSE
During the past week, the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in Dare County has been as follows:
Tues., Dec. 15: 13 cases, 10 residents; three nonresidents; one local woman 65+ hospitalized.
Wed., Dec. 16: 20 cases, 14 residents; six nonresidents.
Thurs., Dec. 17: 14 cases, eight residents; six nonresidents.
Fri., Dec. 18: eight cases; seven residents; one nonresident.
Sat., Dec. 19: 20 cases, 16 residents; four nonresidents.
Sun., Dec. 20: 32 cases, 21 residents; 11 nonresidents.
Mon., Dec. 21: eight cases, seven residents; one nonresident.
Tues., Dec. 22: 35 cases, 28 residents; seven nonresidents.
The average is 19 new cases per day.
The case-report totals on Sunday and yesterday jumped out at us, as did the fact 26 of yesterday’s 35 new cases were people between the ages of 25 and 49. That is nearly three-quarters.
Overall, 37 percent of Dare County’s 1,423 COVID-19 cases are people in the 25-to-49 age group, and 23 percent are people ages 50 through 64.
The college-age group accounts for about 15 percent of the cases; the 65-and-over group accounts for about 13 percent; and the remaining 12 percent are children age 17 and younger.
Dr. Davies observed in her update that yesterday was a “rather extraordinary day” for the county health department because it received its first shipment of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The County started vaccinating front-line health-care workers this week and will continue doing so in the ensuing weeks.
Twenty-one days must elapse between the two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Dare has not yet received its batch of second doses for what is known as Priority Group 1a of vaccine recipients. Vaccines are being administered across North Carolina according to a priority ranking of the recipients.
For more vaccine information, see COVID-19 Vaccine | Dare County, NC (darenc.com)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DR. FAUCI
We end our last COVID-19 update of 2020 with a special birthday greeting to Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the NIH’s Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who turns 80 tomorrow on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve.
Word is he is not planning to travel anywhere.
Dr. Fauci received his first dose of the newly approved-for-emergency-use Moderna vaccine yesterday and reported that he felt fine afterward. He did not even experience injection site pain, which is common with many vaccinations. He will receive his second dose in 28 days.
May the eminent, compassionate, and extremely hard-working Dr. Fauci enjoy doing whatever he darn well pleases on his birthday. He has not had a day off in nearly a year. Maybe he can enjoy some down time tomorrow.
We wish him many happy returns of the day and many more birthdays.
Today I visited the Kitty Hawk Post Office to ensure that the packages I dropped off there for mailing (I do click-and-ship) and for which I have not received any tracking information are not stacked up in a backroom reserved for oblivion.
I was assured that all packages received at the post office are loaded onto cargo trucks and transported the heck out of there as soon as possible. I was also told that I should not expect to receive any tracking information until my packages reach their destination.
So, there is still hope.
Merry Christmas and happy other holidays, everyone. Here’s to a bright and healthy new year.
And don’t forget. If you get cabin fever and decide you would like to violate the 10 p.m. “curfew,” just call up your favorite watering hole and order a “to-go” mixed drink. The Governor says it’s OK. See yesterday’s Beacon for details.
But bring your mask!
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 12/23/20