The number of new COVID-19 cases last week in Dare County increased by 54 percent over the previous week, as the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services yesterday reported 83 new cases, 32 of them—or 39 percent—nonresidents.

The DCDHHS also reported a positivity rate of 13 percent for the week of July 20-27, up from 12.1 percent during the previous week.

(See The Beacon, 7/21/21 and 7/14/21, for previous reports.)

After four consecutive weeks of COVID-19 case increases, Dare County is now in the “high” red category of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s level of community transmission of the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Also yesterday, the CDC advised all vaccinated individuals in an area of “substantial” or “high” transmission of COVID-19 to wear a mask indoors in public areas in order to “maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others.”

Although the Delta variant of the virus has not been determined by genomic sequencing to be infecting people in Dare County, the DCDHHS considers it to be “prevalent” here.

According to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker, both Dare and Currituck counties are areas of high community transmission of COVID-19.

(See the CDC’s COVID tracker to ascertain the level of community transmission in any county in the country: CDC COVID Data Tracker. Counties reporting sufficient data are rated as high, substantial, moderate, or low in transmission level.)

The DCDHHS broke down the COVID-19 data for July 20-27 as follows:

*Sixty-three of the 83 cases (76 percent) were symptomatic;

*Forty-eight (58 percent) acquired the virus by direct contact with unvaccinated people who tested positive for COVID-19;

*Twenty-six (31 percent) did not know how they acquired the virus;

*Twenty-two (27 percent) were breakthrough cases (five had the J&J vaccine; 11 had Moderna; and six had Pfizer-BioNTech)

The DCDHHS said in its report that since the week of April 12, there have been 50 identified breakthrough cases in Dare County—about 10 percent of the total number (481) of positive cases—most of whom had mild symptoms or were asymptomatic, and none of whom was hospitalized.

The 10 percent figure is substantially higher than the estimated 1 percent of breakthrough cases among the total number of positive COVID-19 cases nationwide, as reported by the CDC.

According to data posted yesterday on the DCDHHS’s dashboard, 51—or 61 percent—of the people who tested positive for COVID-19 locally during the week of July 20-27 were between the ages of 25 and 49. All but 13 were under the age of 50. Only three were age 65 or older.

The DCDHHS continues to stress that epidemiological evidence indicates that both the State of North Carolina and Dare County are at the beginning of a “surge” in COVID-19 infections.

Besides getting vaccinated, the DCDHHS advises people to protect themselves by limiting “prolonged direct contact with unvaccinated individuals who do not live in your household, wearing a mask when in large crowds, especially indoors, and washing your hands frequently with soap and water or using hand sanitizer.”

It also echoes the CDC’s advice, saying that “given the high level of community transmission in Dare County, . . . vaccinated individuals may also want to wear a mask when they are gathered among unvaccinated individuals or in an environment where vaccination status is unknown.”

Dare currently has 59 active cases of COVID-19 infection, according to the DCDHHS. One person is hospitalized with what the health department describes as “complications” of the disease.

For the full DCDHHS weekly report, see DCDHHS COVID-19 Update #105 | Tuesday, July 27, 2021 | Coronavirus | Dare County, NC (darenc.com).

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, ©7/28/21

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