By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on November 17, 2020
State officials today unveiled a County Alert System to try and combat the increasing spread of COVID-19 in the state and have categorized Dare as an as “orange county” — meaning there is substantial community spread of the virus here.
Currituck County is also designated as an orange county while Hyde is a yellow county, meaning it has significant spread of the virus. (Every county in the state is at least in yellow mode. Orange and red are the next steps up.)
“The new County Alert System shows our state’s viral hotspots,” said Governor Roy Cooper.
It was another day of sobering numbers statewide as the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 3,288 new cases on Nov. 17. Hospitalizations hit a new record at 1,501 and the percentage of positive tests out of all tests administered continued its steady rise, reaching 8.6% today.
At the Nov. 17 briefing introducing the new coding system, Cooper said that “North Carolina’s metrics are increasing, but not surging.” But there is a sense of growing urgency at the state level and Cooper today, more explicitly than he has in recent memory, raised the specter of the state going backward to re-impose restrictions that had been lifted if the numbers continue to worsen.
The new alert system categorizes a county based on three metrics — the number of new cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days: the percentage of positive tests over a 14-day ; and a group of hospital impact measures that include the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19, COVID-related visits to emergency rooms and hospital capacity.
The data for Dare County show it with a rate of 386.4 cases per 100,000 residents, a 14-day positive rate of 8.3% and moderate hospital impact. For Currituck County, the numbers posted for the new alert system are 180.1 cases per 100,000 people, an 8.5% positive rate, and low hospital impact. In Hyde County, there are 81.0 cases per 100,000 people, a 3.4% positive rate and a low hospital impact.
For the third day in a row, on Nov. 17, the Dare County Department of Health and Human Services reported 10 new cases of COVID-19. And in an update issued Tuesday, the department also reported that the percentage of positive tests in the last week had jumped up to 9.44%, the highest level in the county since the beginning of the pandemic.
And even as Dare County is moving back to all virtual learning on Nov. 18, the Dare County Schools reported on Nov. 17 that going back to last Friday, there have been three new COVID-19 cases — one at Manteo High and two at First Flight Elementary — that have required more than 75 direct contacts to begin quarantining.
For counties that are in either the orange or red group (which means critical community spread), the state is advising people to:
In remarks at the Nov. 17 briefing, Cooper, while acknowledging that COVID fatigue has set in, pleaded with residents to continue observing precautions amid good news on vaccine progress.
“Letting the virus win now, with vaccines coming so soon,” he said, “is like punting at the ten-yard line.”
Note: Every morning, the NC Department of Health and Human Services posts updates the number of reported cases of coronavirus. That number reflects positive results from all tests, including the NC State Laboratory of Public Health and all hospital and commercial labs. There may be other reports, from the media and elsewhere, that will include different numbers during a given day, but this is an effective way of tracking numbers from the same source on a day-to-day basis.
SOURCE: NC DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES