Dare County goes back to red on the spread map as COVID-19 cases rise

Like the rest of the country, Dare County continues to see a spike in COVID-19 cases, with the percent of positive tests to total reaching 13% for last week.

In its Tuesday COVID-19 update, Dare County Health and Human Services also announced that there have been 50 breakthrough cases among those vaccinated since April 12. Of those:

  • 41 are residents and 9 non-residents
  • 16 had the J&J vaccine
  • 21 had the Moderna vaccine
  • 13 had the Pfizer vaccine
  • Most had mild symptoms; several were asymptomatic; 0 hospitalizations

The county has seen 83 new cases over the past week. Among those, 63 (76%) are symptomatic;  48 (58%) acquired the virus by direct contact with unvaccinated individuals who were positive for COVID-19; 26 (31%) do not know how they acquired the virus and 22 were breakthrough cases (5 had J&J vaccine; 11 had Moderna, 6 had Pfizer).

More from Dare County Health and Human Services:

When an individual tests positive for COVID-19 more than two weeks after 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.

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.

The FDA and CDC are evaluating whether booster or additional doses of the COVID vaccine would provide additional protection. At this time booster doses are not being encouraged or recommended. We will update the public if that guidance changes.

Protect Yourself and Your Family

NC DHHS epidemiological data indicates the state and Dare County are at the beginning of another surge of COVID-19 infections. The Delta variant is believed to be prevalent in Dare County. The CDC and NC DHHS indicate it is a significantly more contagious variant. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19. People who are vaccinated are far less likely to get infected with COVID-19 than those who are not vaccinated. Based on self-reports during contact tracing interviews, in the low percentage of breakthrough cases, individuals who are vaccinated are experiencing mild to no symptoms.

In addition to getting vaccinated, other ways you can protect yourself and your family include 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.

A number of area businesses and organizations are requiring face coverings to protect their employees and patrons during this period of elevated COVID-19 infections. A business has the legal authority to require a face covering if they so choose. While masks are currently not required under a NC Executive Order, NC DHHS guidance states that people who are not vaccinated should wear a mask and maintain distance in all indoor public settings and in outdoor settings when they can’t maintain six feet of distance. Given the high level of community transmission in Dare County, at this time 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.

Back to School Vaccine Clinics

Dare County Department of Health and Human Services will be offering two COVID-19 vaccination clinics (and the corresponding second dose clinics) prior to the start of the school year. These clinics will provide the Pfizer vaccine and are for anyone in need of a vaccine who is 12 years of age and over. In addition to preventing serious illness and death, current CDC and NC DHHS guidance states that individuals who are fully vaccinated are not required to quarantine if they are exposed to a person who tests positive for COVID-19, as long as the vaccinated individual remains symptom free. To register for a vaccine appointment please visit our website at www.darenc.com/covidvaccine to complete the vaccination request form. Staff will then call you to schedule an appointment. The upcoming clinic dates are:

Thursday, July 29th from 2:30 – 6:30 pm in Buxton

Friday, July 30th from 2:30 – 6:30 pm in Nags Head

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.

Since late December 2020, a total of 23,443 (63%) of eligible Dare County residents have received an initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 22,420 (61%) are fully vaccinated.

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 634 COVID-19 diagnostic tests reported in Dare County. This brings the total number of tests performed since early March of last year to 42,863. There were 83 positive cases between July 19 and July 25. The percentage of positive tests to overall tests in Dare County since we started testing in March 2020 is 8.0%. The percent of positive tests to total tests for the past week increased to 13.0%. Syndromic surveillance of individuals presenting with COVID like symptoms to the emergency department and urgent care centers showed an increase in 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 each Tuesday. 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.

About Kari Pugh 1055 Articles
Kari Pugh is digital director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, 94.5 WCMS and News Talk 92.3 WZPR. Reach her at kpugh@jammediallc.com