By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on July 27, 2021
Update: Dare County Schools Superintendent John Farrelly has announced that in light of the new July 27 CDC recommendation that all K-12 students and staff wear face coverings regardless of vaccination status, the July 29 Board of Education meeting to address such issues has been moved back to Aug. 5 at 5 p.m.
The July 27 COVID-19 update from the Dare County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reflects the surge of cases in much of the nation and comes on the same day the CDC recommended mask wearing for all K-12 students and staff in the coming school year.
There were 83 cases reported in Dare County in the week of July 19-25, up from 54 cases the previous week. That’s part of a steady climb from only 7 cases to 83 cases in four weeks. And a sizeable number of these new cases, 33 of them, involve those listed as non-residents of the county.
The DHHS has also been tracking breakthrough cases that occur in fully vaccinated people, noting that about 10% — or 50 of the 481 cases reported here since April 12 — have been breakthrough cases. Of those cases, the DHHS said that most had mild symptoms, several were asymptomatic, and none required hospitalization.
In addition, the percentage of positive test results in Dare County for the past week has risen again, this time to 13% up from 12.1% the previous week. By way of comparison, that percentage was 2% one month ago.
Citing the dominant Delta variant of the virus — one now found in about 80% of cases nationally — CDC Director Rochelle Walensky announced new CDC guidelines on July 27 that recommend even fully vaccinated people wear masks in indoor areas with “high” and “substantial” spread of the virus. At the same time, the agency also recommended that all K-12 students and school staff, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in school settings.
One driver of the new CDC guidelines appears to be data that shows vaccinated people can transmit the COVID virus — although they are far less likely to experience severe illness and in Walensky’s words, the “vast majority” of new cases are occurring among unvaccinated people.
Locally, the Dare County Board of Education meets this Thursday, July 29, at 5 p.m. to consider COVID-safety procedures for opening public schools next month. To that end, the district emailed student families and school staff on July 27 asking them to take a survey about their views on cloth face coverings in school.
The DHHS is offering two upcoming COVID vaccine clinics for anyone 12 and over. The dates are Thursday, July 29 from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. in Buxton and Friday, July 30 from 2:30-6:30 p.m. in Nags Head. 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.
Statewide, the latest COVID data are also discouraging. A total of 1,603 cases were reported on July 27 by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services along with a positivity percentage of 10.4% for all COVID tests. That’s a very large increase over positive test rates that were under 5% in mid-July.