Dare County COVID-19 cases rise this week; booster shots available

By Dare County Health and Human Services

The number of new COVID-19 cases and the percent of positive tests to total tests both increased this past week. Dare County continues to experience widespread community transmission of the COVID-19 virus and remains in the red category on the CDC’s Level of Community Transmission map. Red indicates a high level of community transmission of the virus. We are hopeful with continued practice of mitigation measures, including getting vaccinated, masking, physical distancing and good hand hygiene, we will continue to see numbers decrease and the county move into a moderate to low level of community transmission.

While Dare County remains an area of widespread community transmission, all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, ages 5 and over should wear a mask when indoors in public settings. All individuals should consider wearing a mask when outside if gathering in large crowds. Individuals ages 12 and over should get vaccinated for COVID-19 to help prevent serious illness, hospitalizations and death.

The total number of new positive cases reported in Dare County for the past week was 130. The majority of new cases were acquired by direct contact with friends or family members who were positive or symptomatic. Of the 130 new cases last week:

114 (88%) are symptomatic.
108 (83%) acquired the virus by direct contact with someone who was positive for COVID-19.
98 (75%) were not vaccinated. Of the 32 vaccinated cases: 9 had J&J vaccine; 11 had Moderna, 12 had Pfizer).
Currently, there are 102 active COVID-19 cases among residents of Dare County. There are 12 residents hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19.

The reported positive cases only include laboratory confirmed cases reported by medical providers, urgent care centers, the hospital, or the state, which includes tests performed at area pharmacies. Self-reported, over the counter, home tests are not counted in the reported count totals, however contact tracing is conducted for the positive self reported cases. If an individual tests positive more than once (i.e. retests and still positive) it is only counted as one case.

Breakthrough Cases

When an individual tests positive for COVID-19 two weeks or later from receiving the final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine that is considered a breakthrough case. Vaccine breakthrough cases are expected. COVID-19 vaccines are effective and are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control. However, no vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness in vaccinated people. There will be a small percentage of fully vaccinated people who still get sick, are hospitalized, or die from COVID-19. According to the CDC, there is evidence that vaccination may make illness less severe for those who are vaccinated and still get sick.

Since the week of April 12th when the first breakthrough case was reported, there have been 2,923 positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Dare County. 2,343 (80%) of those cases were not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated. Of the 580 breakthrough cases:

338 residents and 242 non-residents
223 were asymptomatic; 261 reported mild symptoms and 39 reported moderate symptoms
3 were hospitalized
0 deaths
120 had the J&J vaccine
233 had the Moderna vaccine
224 had the Pfizer vaccine
3 had Astrazeneca
The whole numbers provided above are for informational purposes and not an indication of effectiveness of one vaccine compared to the others. Of note, the Moderna vaccine has been the predominant vaccine administered by Dare DHHS. The breakdown of the COVID 19 vaccines administered by Dare DHHS are: 5% J&J, 24% Pfizer and 71% Moderna.

COVID Vaccinations in Dare

All individuals 12 years of age and over are encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccination. COVID-19 vaccinations are readily available at numerous locations throughout the county including the health department and many area pharmacies like: Walgreens, CVS, Sunshine Family Pharmacy, Island Pharmacy, Bear Drugs, and Beach Pharmacy.

Individuals ages 12 and over should get vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Studies have shown that vaccination provides a strong boost in protection in people who have recovered from COVID-19. If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Since late December 2020, a total of 26,204 (71%) of eligible Dare County residents have received an initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 25,018 (68%) are fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 Booster Dose Information

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have authorized booster vaccine shots and recommend them for individuals who are at high risk for serious illness or exposure. You are eligible for a booster if you have completed your vaccine series (You received your second/final dose of Pfizer or Moderna more than SIX months ago; You received your Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than TWO months ago) and ONE of the following is true

You are 65 or older, or
You are 18 and over and live or work in a nursing home or long-term care residential facility, or
You are 18 and over and have a medical condition that puts you at high risk for severe illness (for example, obesity, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes), or
You are 18 and over and work in a high-risk profession, meaning you come into contact with a lot of people, and you don’t know their vaccination status (for example, health care workers, first responders, teachers, food processing workers, retail and restaurant workers, and public transportation workers), or
You are 18 and over and live or work in a place where many people live together (for example, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, migrant farm housing, dormitories or other group living settings in colleges or universities).
Additionally, individuals are now able to receive any brand of COVID-19 vaccine for their booster shot. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received and others may prefer to get a different booster. Dare County Department of Health & Human Services will not advise you on which booster you should receive, please speak with a doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you have questions about what booster is right for you.

Dare County Department of Health & Human Services will be offering Moderna booster vaccines. Below you will find a breakdown of where Dare County residents can receive first, second and booster doses.

First or Second of Moderna

You may call your area pharmacy or call our Clinical Services team at 252.475.5003 (select option #2, leave a message if you reach voicemail).

Booster Dose of ModernaCall your area pharmacy or fill out our online request form at www.darenc.com/register4vaccine to receive your vaccine through Dare County Department of Health & Human Services

First Dose or Booster Dose of J&J

Call your area pharmacy.

First, Second or Booster Dose of PfizerCall your area pharmacy.

For more information or questions about COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses, please visit www.darenc.com.COVIDvaccine

Key Metrics

Each week we review the 4 key metrics associated with disease investigation and surveillance. The metrics are:

Number of Tests
Confirmed Cases
Positive Tests as a Percent of Total Tests
COVID Like Illness Surveillance
This past week there were 721 COVID-19 diagnostic tests reported in Dare County. This brings the total number of tests performed since early March of last year to 56,341. There were 130 positive cases between October 18 and October 24. The percentage of positive tests to overall tests in Dare County since we started testing in March 2020 has been relatively stable for the past three weeks. This past week was 10.55%. The percentage of positive tests to total tests for the past week increased from the previous week to 18.03%. Syndromic surveillance of individuals presenting with COVID like symptoms to the emergency department and urgent care centers shows low levels of activity. These graphs can be found on the Dare County website at www.darenc.com/covid19.

Communications and Information Sharing

Dare County DHHS has an established schedule of communication to share information regarding COVID-19. Every Tuesday, a written update which includes the previous week’s COVID-19 key metrics is issued. Additional updates will be released as needed. All released videos and written updates can be found on our website, DHHS facebook page, Dare County Twitter page, and Dare Emergency Management Twitter page. If you would like to receive these updates directly to your email, please sign up to receive our enotifications.

New positive cases are updated on the dashboard and on our website and shared on the DHHS facebook page Monday- Friday. To find the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 cases in Dare County visit www.darenc.com/covid19. State COVID-19 data is available at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard.

Contact Us

We encourage you to stay informed by visiting www.darenc.com/covid19 or by visiting the CDC or NC DHHS websites. If you have specific needs or questions you may also call the Dare County COVID-19 call center open Monday-Friday from 8:30 to 5:00 at 252-475-5008.