799 new cases, 1 new death in Dare 

By on January 11, 2022

What do COVID hospitalization numbers tell us?                                                                                         

It was another week of unprecedented numbers in terms of the sheer volume of COVID-19 cases in Dare County — numbers driven by the very contagious Omicron variant. But the overall picture of the pandemic in this moment is more complicated than just case numbers.

The Jan. 11 update from the Dare County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported 799 cases of COVID in the week from Jan. 3-9. That’s up from what had been the record-shattering mark of 513 cases in the previous week. At the same time, the positive test rate in the county jumped to 43.68% in this past week, substantially up from the 31.05% the week of Dec. 27-Jan. 2.

The number of Dare County residents hospitalized with COVID (14) remains relatively low and increased by 1 this past week. Sadly, 1 new death was reported on Jan. 10, a woman 65 or over, who is the 27th county resident to succumb to the virus since the outset of the pandemic. She is the first resident reported to die of COVID since Dec. 7, 2021.

The DHHS also tracks the percentage of weekly cases by vaccination status. For the week of Jan. 3-9, 59% of the cases occurred among the unvaccinated with the rest of them occurring among vaccinated individuals — including the 10% of the newly infected who had also received boosters.

North Carolina

The Jan. 11 daily data reported by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) shows similar patterns when it comes to the COVID-19 case numbers. As of Jan. 11, there were 17,705 daily new cases of COVID. That is down from the astronomically high 29,069 cases reported on Jan. 8, but still well above the highest level of any other previous surge. The Jan. 11 rate of positive COVID tests was 30.5%, also reflecting a dramatic recent increase.

When it comes to hospitalizations with COVID, the numbers at the state level are exploding. As of Jan. 11, there were 3,991 hospitalizations, more than double the 1,738 people hospitalized as recently as Christmas Day. The number of residents in ICUs is also up to 722, a 55% percent increase since Dec. 25.

Thus far deaths at the state level have trailed­ well behind the hospitalization numbers in this current surge, something likely attributable to Omicron’s tendency to cause milder disease than other variants and because deaths are also a lagging metric that follow after hospitalizations. For the last three days reported, for example, the state lists a combined 14 COVID deaths.

What to make of the COVID hospitalization numbers?

In recent days, there have been reports about a significant number of people hospitalized with COVID who are not hospitalized because of COVID but became inpatients for another reason and tested positive upon an admission screening. In New York City, that latter number was reported to be as high as 50%. In Massachusetts public health officials will start differentiating from those in hospitals from COVID and those for who tested positive while admitted for something else.

In North Carolina, the NCDHHS data tracks people in the hospital with COVID, whether it was the primary reason for their admission or not. And the department stresses that regardless of why people entered the hospital, this many inpatients with COVID seriously strain health care resources. It adds that COVID infections could be causing other hospitalizations that otherwise would not have been necessary.

NCDHHS press spokesperson Catie Armstrong emailed the Voice that, “As we have seen cases increase rapidly due to the more contagious Omicron variant, we’ve seen hospitalizations increase as well and put as put a strain on our healthcare system…Typically, individuals that are admitted to the hospital are experiencing some sort of symptom severe enough to warrant hospital admission, whether that be heart trouble, severe dehydration, a severe injury, etc. If these same individuals test positive for COVID-19, they have to be placed in COVID-cohorted space which requires more use of PPE, staff, space etc. same as a person that is admitted specifically for COVID-19 related complications.”

“It’s also important to note that it is not always clear what role COVID may or may not play in someone needing hospitalization. For example, COVID can worsen other health conditions (heart conditions, breathing issues, etc.) and lead to hospitalizations that may not have been necessary without a COVID-19 diagnosis playing a role. NCDHHS is working with hospital partners on options to better understand reasons for hospitalization among those with COVID,” she added.

The Voice also asked Vidant Health, which operates eight hospitals in the region, about hospitalizations that do not involved people initially admitted for COVID.

In an email response, Vidant Communications Coordinator Ashlin Elliott stated that, “While there are some patients admitted to the hospital with COVID rather than for COVID…most COVID-positive patients who are hospitalized in the intensive care unit suffer from chronic conditions worsened by COVID or with pneumonia driven by the virus. It is difficult to provide an accurate estimate of how many patients are admitted with COVID rather than for COVID given the complicated nature of determining exactly when a patient is infected and whether or not COVID is the driving factor in a patient’s health issues in the moment care is sought.”

The email also pointed to the impact of all the COVID cases on crucial hospital resources.

“Vidant Health [is] quickly filling up with COVID patients, most of whom are unvaccinated…With the ever-increasing demand for care, and the increasing number of health care workers infected with COVID, it is straining our ability to care for those with other urgent medical needs that are not COVID-related,” the email stated. “This has already resulted in rescheduling non-emergent surgeries, longer wait times and less available team members to care for both COVID and non-COVID patients. The good news is we know that vaccinations are highly effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalizations and death…”

Vaccination status of those hospitalized with COVID

Both NCDHHS and Vidant officials point to the central importance of getting vaccinated to avoid severe illness.

According to NCDHHS weekly COVID summary, for the week ending on Jan. 1, a full 80% of hospitalizations were among the unvaccinated. And the unvaccinated also comprised 88% of individuals in ICUs.

For Vidant the numbers are similar: As of Jan. 10, 83% of those hospitalized with COVID are unvaccinated; 92% of those in the ICU with COVID are unvaccinated; and 95% of those on ventilators are unvaccinated.

For the purposes of categorization, unvaccinated means someone who has not received any vaccine dose or received only one Pfizer or Moderna dose.

 

 

 




Comments

  • Joe Miller

    No vaccination = Pay for your own hospitalization. Price of “freedom of choice”.

    Tuesday, Jan 11 @ 8:57 pm
  • anotherobxman

    Agreed Joe Miller, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Tuesday, Jan 11 @ 10:29 pm
  • Johnny

    Joe Miller
    I’ve had it twice
    Once pre vac, once post vaccination.
    Honestly it was worse the second time.
    And this second time all the folks I know who were not vacced, were better in about 3 days. While me and about 2 others vacced were sick 7-10 days. Finally was able to get tested for free yesterday waiting for results.
    And the person that died, was elderly and vaccinated, friend of the family.

    Wednesday, Jan 12 @ 6:44 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Johnny, your “anecdotal” evidence represents the world’s smallest sample size.

    Wednesday, Jan 12 @ 8:19 am
  • Dethrol

    I agree with Joe and anotherobxman…. But let’s be completely progressive and honest in our Marxism. We should require those who are obese, who smoke, who injure themselves while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, anyone who ends up at the hospital as a result of their criminal activity, etc and ad nauseam, to pay for their own hospitalization. These too are choices that in our just and fair great society should not be paid for or suffered by the people. What a bunch of tools.

    Wednesday, Jan 12 @ 8:58 am
  • Southern Dawn

    So Joe, Let’s dig into that and see who else should pay for their own hospitalization from their “freedom of choice.”

    Morbidly obese people who have strokes and heart attacks
    Lifelong smokers with COPD
    Alcoholics with pancreatitis and liver failure
    Congestive heart failure from unhealthy, lifelong lifestyles
    Type 2 diabetics because of the food they ate

    So by your reasoning, if the above folks were vaccinated they should get paid treatment, right? As I have said before on this platform, judging each other for individual medical choices is divisive. Get vaccinated if you and your physician feel you should. Stay home when you are sick. Wear a mask around vulnerable people with underlying medical conditions regardless of your vax status. Peace.

    Wednesday, Jan 12 @ 9:12 am
  • Chilly Mullet

    Test positive is rate is 43.68 percent in Dare, is that the highest in the state?
    Sheila Davies should be nominated for the county’s employee of the month for her leadership on COVID.

    Wednesday, Jan 12 @ 10:48 am
  • sandflea

    Mark;
    Exactly! They take the smallest percentages of occurrences and make them seem like they’re the most common.

    Joe Miller, anotherobxman;
    As you may know, many hospitals are cancelling elective surgeries; including the OBX Hospital and Sentara hospitals because they are over-filled with COVID patients; 90% unvaccinated. My suggestion would be that if you contract COVID and need to go to the hospital, you are allowed to be admitted if you’re vaccinated. If not vaccinated, you can stay at home and eat horse paste (Ivermectin) and Hydroxychloriquine and possibly place some very powerful lights inside of yourself.

    Wednesday, Jan 12 @ 11:03 am
  • kenny

    Mark, Do you have “evidence” representing Johnny’s “anecdotal” sample size ? Talk about misinformation!

    Wednesday, Jan 12 @ 11:24 am
  • Just sayin

    But the point is that it happens, at least death of vaccinated individuals. Valid, especially with people out there with the opinion that health care options should be different for the unvaccinated, which is as ridiculous as heath care being designated by skin color

    Wednesday, Jan 12 @ 11:55 am
  • Greg

    The Statement from Vidant tells the story. The unvaccinated are the large majority of those who end up hospitalized with varying outcomes. The unvaccinated are stressing the hospitals and their staff. The so called “ personal choice” of the unvaccinated is hardly personal. That choice affects many others in a bad way. One could equate that “choice” to so many other irresponsible decisions that cause problems with more people than just the individual who made the “choice”. It is similar to the “choice” to run a red light. In making that “choice” a chance for a bad outcome is set in motion. All of the twisting and turning by vaccine skeptics is simply smoke. Which is it, the ICU or three little shots that are free?

    Wednesday, Jan 12 @ 1:10 pm
  • anotherobxman

    @Sandflea, my position is more that these persons have ELECTED to not get vaccinated so treat their case as ELECTIVE treatment……which puts them at the end of the line. That opinion would have been different last year this time since the vaccines weren’t readily available to all then. Patience for these (whatever word Mark will allow) has disappeared. Wear a mask.

    Wednesday, Jan 12 @ 5:40 pm
  • Pearl

    Just sayin ??
    You do not choose your skin color.
    But you can choose to be vaccinated or not.
    You make no sense whatsoever.

    Wednesday, Jan 12 @ 7:00 pm
  • Disgruntled

    Putting everyone in one of two baskets is no way to report on health issues. The list of details being overlooked is overwhelming. I don’t how anyone can conclude anything.

    The original hope was the vaccine would stop the spread, that’s not working. Have we moved the goal post,, again? With a lag time in the relied upon PCR test results I’m not sure why a hospital worker would not be required use all PPE around every patient?

    Let’s just hope the mutations continue to go our way,

    Thursday, Jan 13 @ 6:25 am
  • Tom

    I see that the verbal fistfights are still going strong.

    Thursday, Jan 13 @ 10:08 am
  • Deb

    These articles serve only to divide us and show the awful mindset of some posters. Take a breath, be grateful for what you have and enjoy the beautiful place you live. There’s no benefit to all of this Covid navel gazing.

    Friday, Jan 14 @ 9:42 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Deb, I think many people are disappointed that the COVID pandemic has become such a divisive issue. And everyone has an absolute right to tune out the news. But for a news organization, covering the greatest public health crisis in 100 years, one that has killed about 850,000 Americans, strained our medical system, and affected virtually every aspect of our society isn’t exactly “navel gazing.” It’s our basic function.

    Friday, Jan 14 @ 12:20 pm
  • Just sayin

    Just don’t point out inconsistencies told to us by “authorities” or things that we’ve been forced to do or believe about how we have dealt with this scourge, like having to wear masks to save each other. I and others have been “shouted down” for having “irresponsible” opinions about these things. YET…Biden’s own administration today admitted that cloth masks are ineffective against transmission of this virus due to it’s aerosol nature. I guess now we will all be getting free gas masks in the mail?

    Friday, Jan 14 @ 12:47 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Just, I am posting this and initiating a moratorium on some COVID-related comments. On both sides of the issue, it’s largely the same people posting comments on this site. They’ve already expressed their views numerous times and anyone who reads the page knows what they are. At this point, I don’t think it is adding much, if anything, to the conversation. So, there is going to be a moratorium on COVID posts from the usual suspects. Feel free to comment on any other topic, but for the next few weeks at least, they will be given some time off.

    Saturday, Jan 15 @ 10:46 am
  • Matt in Nags Head

    Mark, I am wondering if Dare County has a way to report positive at-home test results. After two negative tests (one at home antigen, one PCR from the Drive through in Kill Devil Hills), and isolation at home, five days later another antigen test was positive for COVID-19. I looked on the Dare County website but couldn’t seem to find any pertinent information. Have you heard anything about a way to report tests? Thank you.

    Sunday, Jan 16 @ 12:00 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Matt, I’ll try and get an answer for you.

    Sunday, Jan 16 @ 3:37 pm
  • Matt in Nags Head

    Mark, thanks so much!

    Monday, Jan 17 @ 12:50 pm
Join the discussion