7/14/21: COVID-19 CASES ON THE RISE IN DARE COUNTY, PERCENTAGE OF DELTA VARIANT INFECTIONS NOT YET KNOWN.

The Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services yesterday reported 40 new positive cases of COVID-19 during the past week, an increase of nearly 150 percent over the previous week’s total of 27. It also reported a marked increase in Dare’s COVID-19 positivity rate.

Dare County’s July 5-12 positivity rate, which is the percentage of positive cases among the number of COVID-19 tests administered, was 11.3 percent, whereas the previous week’s positivity rate was 7 percent. For the week of June 21-28, Dare County recorded a positivity rate of just 2 percent.

Thirty of the 40 new cases were Dare County residents, and 10 were nonresidents, according to the DCDHHS dashboard. The ages of the new cases range the gamut, from age 17 and younger to age 65 and older. Five of the Dare County cases are in the oldest age group.

The positivity rate statewide is also on the rise. After weeks of recording rates of about 3 percent, the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services is now reporting rates above 5 percent. The positivity rate reported on the NCDHHS’s dashboard yesterday was 5.3 percent.

Starting with the week of May 18-25, the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services (DCDHHS) reverted to reporting new COVID-19 cases on a weekly basis, rather than on a daily basis, as it had been doing since the spring of 2020. The DCDHHS issues its reports each Tuesday.

The DCDHHS also has a vaccine data dashboard, which it updates each Sunday. As of July 11, the dashboard showed 60 percent of the county’s population, or 22,143 people, had been fully vaccinated. An additional 993 people have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In addition to recording the number of new COVID-19 cases and the positivity rate for the week, the DCDHHS reports upon the percentage of new cases that are symptomatic; the percentage of new cases that were acquired by direct contact with unvaccinated people who tested positive for COVID-19; and the number of new “breakthrough cases,” which are cases of COVID-19 in vaccinated people.

Thirty-four of the 40 new cases (86 percent) were symptomatic, according to the DCDHHS, and thirty-six (90 percent) were acquired by direct contact with unvaccinated people.

Statewide, the DCDHHS reported, 99.2 percent of the newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases are in unvaccinated people.

For the first time yesterday, the DCDHHS further identified the breakthrough cases according to the vaccine that the infected people received. Of the eight breakthrough cases for July 5-12, five of them received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine; two had the Moderna vaccine; and one had the Pfizer vaccine.

No one from Dare County is currently hospitalized because of a COVID-19 infection. Twenty-nine people are in home isolation.

THE DELTA VARIANT    

Although it is known at the state level that the Delta variant of the coronavirus has replaced other variants as the predominant one, Dare County has yet to receive specific data back from the state identifying the variants in the COVID test samples it submitted.

The Delta variant, aka B.1.617.2, originated in India and is more contagious than other variants because it has a stronger resistance to the human immune system.

Through genomic sequencing—basically an analysis of an organism’s genetic material— scientists can assess the variant or strain of a virus; but this sequencing, according to the DCDHHS, takes about three weeks.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday, about 58 percent of the new COVID-19 cases diagnosed from June 20 to July 3 in the United States were of the Delta variant, which has different symptoms from other COVID-19 strains, such as the Alpha variant associated with the United Kingdom, and is believed to cause more serious illness and hospitalizations.

In North Carolina, the most recent sequencing revealed that 40 percent of the COVID-19 viruses were identified as Delta variant. Epidemiological data suggest, the DCDHHS said in its report yesterday, that North Carolina is at the beginning of another surge of COVID-19 infections.

Unlike the other COVID-19 variants, the Delta variant does not cause a loss of taste and/or smell in an infected person. The Delta variant’s symptoms are more vague and have been described by medical experts as similar, upon onset, to a mild cold, with a runny nose or sore throat.

For a complete list of COVID-19 symptoms, see the CDC at

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

The DCDHHS is encouraging everyone age 12 and older to get a COVID-19 vaccination, which may be obtained through the county health department and at many area pharmacies.

For the DCDHHS’s full report, see https://www.darenc.com/Home/ Components/News/News/7404/1483.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 7/14/21 

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