By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on September 21, 2021
According to a September 21 update (DCDHHS COVID-19 Update #114) provided by the Dare County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), there were 177 new cases of COVID-19 during the week of Sept. 13-19. That is down substantially from the record-high 279 weekly cases reported from Sept. 6-12 and the 259 cases reported in each of the two weeks before that.
Of the 177 cases this past week, 76% were among the unvaccinated. Overall, since the first so-called breakthrough case involving a fully vaccinated person occurred here in April, 80% of all cases have been among those not fully vaccinated.
During the Sept. 13-19 period, the rate of positive test results in Dare County was reported at 15.9%. While that is still a very elevated number, it is down from the 22.5% rate reported from Sept. 6-12.
Currently, according to the DHHS, there are 124 active COVID-19 cases among Dare County residents, with 14 residents and 2 non-residents hospitalized with the virus. On the vaccination front, the Sept. 21 DHHS update noted that 70% of Dare County residents eligible for a COVID shot (12 years of age and older) have received an initial dose and 65% are fully vaccinated.
As she reviewed four key metrics in tracking the transmission of COVID-19 in the state during the Sept. 21 press briefing, NC Secretary of Health and Human Services Mandy Cohen, cited what “a small bit of optimism.”
One metric, the number of those appearing in Emergency Departments with COVID-like symptoms, has been dropping the past two weeks. As far as the cases themselves, Cohen said the state is still averaging about 6,000 each day (the number reported on Sept. 21 was 4,381) but added that those numbers have been “relatively level” for the two past weeks.
Cohen did note that in breaking down cases by age, about one-third of all the new cases in the past three weeks have been among those 17 years of age and younger.
She also reported that the percentage of positive COVID tests results in the state (reported as 11% on Sept. 21) has been fairly steady at about 10% in recent days. And while stating that “our hospitals are strained,” with more than 900 adults in ICU beds, Cohen said the number North Carolina hospitalizations is also “levelling,” currently down several hundred from a peak of more than 3,800 at the beginning of September. On Sept. 21, the NCDHHS reported that 3,464 are hospitalized.
Summing up the message in the metrics, Governor Roy Cooper declared at the briefing that “it’s positive to see those numbers are levelling,” but he added that they are still “too big.”
Both Cooper and Cohen stressed the need for the unvaccinated to get their shots in order to control the pandemic, with Cohen addressing fears about vaccine safety.
“More than one hundred and eighty-one million Americans have been safely vaccinated,” she stated. “It is COVID that is making people critically ill.”
Currently, 61% of state residents over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated against COVID, a number that rises to 63% among those 18 and older and rises further to 87% for those who are 65 and older.
Cohen said that vaccination rates lag the most among younger people who are eligible to get their shots —at only 38% for those between 12-17 and 42% for those from 18-24 years of age.
In a notable moment at the briefing, Cooper criticized what he described as overheated and confrontational local school board meetings on such issues as mask mandates.
“Threats, bulling, intimidation — none of this belongs in our public schools, particularly by adults. Let’s behave the way we want our kids to act,” he said.