In a striking departure from a practice it initiated in mid-May to report new COVID-19 cases on a weekly, rather than a daily basis, the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services yesterday reported 103 new COVID-19 cases in just the past three days.
Of those 103, 65 (63 percent) are Dare County residents, and 38 (37 percent) are nonresidents.
These percentages are similar to those derived from the July 20-July 27 new case total of 83 that the DCDHHS reported in its weekly update on Tuesday. Fifty-one, or 61 percent, of Tuesday’s new cases were Dare County residents, and 32, or 39 percent, were nonresidents.
(See The Beacon, 7/28/21.)
Since Tuesday’s update, another Dare County resident has been hospitalized for the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to the DCDHHS COVID-19 dashboard, bringing the total to two persons. A nonresident also has been transferred from Dare County and hospitalized.
On 7/28/21, we reported that, 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 COVID-19.
According to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker, Currituck County is also an area of high community transmission of the disease.
Although a genomic sequencing analysis has yet to confirm that the highly contagious and more severe Delta variant of COVID-19 is in Dare County—at least, not as reported—the DCDHHS has long maintained that it is “prevalent.”
“Epidemiological data,” according to the DCDHHS’s July reports, indicate that both the State of North Carolina and Dare County are at the beginning of a “surge” in COVID-19 infections, driven by the Delta variant.
The N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services reported more than 3,000 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday (3,268) and Friday (3,199), according to The Raleigh News and Observer—higher daily case totals than have been recorded in months.
The NCDHHS updates its COVID-19 metrics dashboard Monday through Friday.
We reported earlier this week that 51—or 61 percent—of the people who tested positive for COVID-19 in Dare County during the week of July 20-27 were between the ages of 25 and 49; and all but 13 (16 percent) were under the age of 50. Only three were age 65 or older.
Yesterday’s age-data breakdown differs markedly from this analysis, in that only 47 percent—48 of the 103—of the new cases were of people between the ages of 25 and 49, and 26 of them, or 25 percent, were age 50 or older. Nine of the 103 cases were people age 65 or older. Of those, only two were Dare County residents.
The DCDHHS has released a 7 ½-minute video in which DCDHHS Director Sheila Davies talks with local teenagers about the COVID-19 vaccine. See (41) Dare County COVID 19 Update July 28, 2021 – YouTube
CDC RESPONSE TO NATIONWIDE CASE SURGE
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky yesterday squarely blamed unvaccinated people who have refused to wear face masks for the recent uncontrolled spread of the Delta variant throughout the country, according to The News & Observer.
“Our guidance in May said that fully vaccinated people could take off their masks safely, and that unvaccinated people should continue to wear them,” Dr. Walensky said in a telephone interview with Michael Wilner, the Senior National Security and White House Correspondent for McClatchy, which owns the Raleigh newspaper.
“Unfortunately, that’s not how it played out. Unvaccinated people took off their masks as well. And that’s what led us to where we are today.”
About 80 percent of the counties nationwide that have the most disease, Dr. Walensky told the McClatchy reporter, have less than 40 percent of their residents vaccinated.
With new scientific data suggesting that vaccinated people can spread COVID-19 as easily as those who have not been vaccinated, the CDC last week advised fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in public places if they are in a community, such as Dare County, with a high or “substantial” rate of viral transmission.
In light of this change in guidance, Dr. Walensky stressed in her interview with Mr. Wilner that the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are still working at “90-percent protection against symptomatic disease.”
This means, she said, that “if you know 10 people who’ve been vaccinated, one of them may be a breakthrough case.”
It has long been reported that the breakthrough case would experience milder symptoms than an infected unvaccinated person would.
According to a recent study in “The England Journal of Medicine” cited by Dr. Walensky that was based on Israeli trial data, a number of vaccinated people who experienced breakthrough cases actually had suffered from “long COVID,” which is characterized by symptoms that last for weeks or months and can come and go.
We believe it is safe to say that data about breakthrough cases are still emerging.
The CDC is continuously examining data from clinical trials worldwide, from vaccine manufacturers, and from the United States’ international partners and is likely to change its guidance again as the science evolves.
Dr. Walensky declined to predict in her interview how long Americans will be advised to wear masks going forward.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 7/31/21