By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on September 12, 2021
Assessing the trajectory of COVID-19 in the state at a Sept. 9 press briefing, Governor Roy Cooper stated simply, “The numbers aren’t good.”
With roughly 6,000 new cases now being reported daily in the state, North Carolina Secretary of Health and Human Services Mandy Cohen said at the briefing that, “This summer, we have experienced the fastest rise [in cases] since the pandemic started.”
She called the rising number of COVID hospitalizations in the state, “one of our most worrisome metrics,” with about 3,800 patients hospitalized and more than 900 of them requiring an ICU bed. She described the current state of North Carolina’s hospitals as “strained,” but “not overwhelmed.”
In addition, Cohen said the percentage of positive COVID tests results in the state has registered at more than 10% since August, noting that those numbers are elevated, but “levelling.”
A good deal of the press briefing was focused on protecting the state’s students from COVID, with Cooper reporting that 96% of them are currently in school districts that have adopted a universal mask mandate. That is an increase from the 64% of students who were in universal masking districts a few weeks earlier.
That trend is indicative of what happened in Currituck County on Aug. 27 and in Dare County on Sept. 1, when boards of education in both counties voted to reverse their previous decisions to make mask wearing optional and instead switched to universal masking — something Cooper had urged in a letter sent to school boards in mid-August.
Turning to vaccinations and young people, Cohen said that while 59% of the state’s residents over 12 years of age has been fully vaccinated, that number drops to 40% of those between the ages of 18-24 and to 35% of those between 12 and 17. Currently, anyone over 12 years of age can be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“There is a lot of virus circulating in our state and that virus is mostly going [to affect] those who are unvaccinated,” she added.
And in a remark clearly directed at those declining to get vaccinated, Cooper offered this suggestion: “How about get off social media and get on the phone with your doctor?”