By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on January 7, 2022
In terms of infections, the Omicron-driven COVID surge is in uncharted territory here. In the past four days, the Dare County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has reported 576 new infections. That already eclipses the record-high 513 cases reported in the full week from Dec. 27-Jan. 2. And the 513 cases shattered the previous weekly record by several hundred cases.
Strikingly, the latest tally reported by the DHHS on Jan. 7 is 219 cases in a single day.
Despite the wildfire spread of the infection, there is encouraging news as well. As of Jan. 7, the DHHS is reporting only 13 COVID hospitalizations among Dare County residents, which is down from the 16 reported hospitalizations just a few days ago. (This is different from the state level, where the number of cases and hospitalizations have risen dramatically.) In addition, there have been no new COVID deaths reported among Dare Count residents in a month.
The breakdown of new cases by vaccination status also offers more evidence about how the Omicron variant works. Of the 576 cases reported so far this week, 61% have occurred among unvaccinated residents and 39% have occurred among vaccinated residents — with the definition of vaccinated meaning those who have received two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the J&J vaccine. Those numbers indicate that the dominant Omicron variant is decidedly more able to infect the vaccinated than previous strains.
But when it comes to those who have received the additional COVID booster shot, the story is quite different. Of the 576 cases so far this week, only 8.5% have occurred among those who have received a COVID booster shot. That indicates, as public health officials are saying, that there is a significant increase in COVID protection from those boosters.
To that end, the CDC has just lowered the wait time for those eligible to receive booster shots from six months to five months after receiving the second dose of a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. Those who received the one-dose J&J vaccine can get a booster two months after that shot.
In addition, the CDC also says that after their initial dose, those aged 12 and older should receive a booster. And it recommends a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine for those children ages 5 to 11 who have compromised immune systems.
A Jan. 7 release from NCDOT says that due to the increase in COVID cases and exposures among crew and staff, the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry route will be running a reduced schedule effective immediately through Monday, Jan. 10.
The schedule will be as follows:
Ferry passengers are encouraged to remain in their vehicles during shorter crossings and are reminded that they must wear face coverings when inside all passenger lounges and terminals.