COVID may be quieter, but it’s not gone

By on July 26, 2022

State, national numbers rising at significant pace

The latest weekly update on COVID-19 transmission in Dare County — covering the period from July 18-24 — is certainly nothing alarming. It shows a modest increase up to 145 cases from 121 the week before.

As has been the case for months, the weekly COVID numbers are posted, without fanfare or comment, on the Dare County website. The releases also reflect the gradual fading of the pandemic from public consciousness here, with the exception of seeing the occasional masked shopper in supermarkets, as the outbreak makes its way into year three.

Perhaps most importantly, the level of dangerous impacts from the virus in Dare County remain very small. According to the latest update, there are only two people here hospitalized with the virus and the death toll has remained stable and low, at 27 since January. Currently, the CDC does categorize Dare County as a community of high transmission.

At the same time, however, key COVID metrics at the state and national levels are moving in the wrong direction, causing some experts to raise increasingly loud alarms about a new surge driven by the BA. 5 variant, the most contagious form of the virus to emerge. Its most prominent recent victim is President Joe Biden.

Moreover, as Dare County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Director Sheila Davies indicated in a recent email to the Voice, the overall case numbers are clearly understating the spread of COVID due in large measure to the increasing use of home tests.

“Home tests are not reportable…so we have no way of knowing how many additional positive cases are out there,” she said. “I am sure there are many more [in Dare County] than what is in the reportable data. This would be the same across the nation.”

The latest metrics posted on the dashboard by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) show the state’s reportable numbers are worsening. As of the last update on July 20, the viral particles found in wastewater is up 31% over the previous week. Weekly new COVID cases in North Carolina rose to 27,930 from 26,014 the previous week. And hospital admissions moved up to 1,099 from 971 the previous week. Death from COVID, fortunately, have remained stable for several months and are generally below 50 a week.

On a national level, the metrics on COVID seem more concerning. A daily COVID tracker published by the New York Times using multiple data sources puts the July 25 daily average of cases at 128,015, up 10% from two weeks earlier. The number of people currently hospitalized with COVID across the nation is 42,862, up 12% from two weeks earlier. And the number of daily deaths from COVID, at 439, is up 34% from the period 14 days earlier.

Again, the national numbers are considered an undercount because of home testing or people foregoing tests completely.

No one is suggesting the nation, state or country is back to the bad old days of the worst of the COVID pandemic. Long gone are the days of regular media briefings by Governor Roy Cooper, mask mandates and seriously enforced social distancing as public officials now try to wrestle with a pandemic that still has the ability to ebb and flow.

To that end, Cooper issued a July 19 press release that seems to reflect that effort. The statement noted that as “key COVID-19 metrics increase in North Carolina and the U.S. due to the BA.5 variant,” people are advised to “stay prepared by being up to date on vaccines and boosters, having a supply of tests and seeking treatment if they test positive.”

“While COVID-19 metrics will continue to rise and fall,’’ the statement continued, “it remains important to prepare and protect yourself.”


 

 

 




Comments

  • John

    1. A hospitalization doesn’t technically mean that someone is in the hospital. If someone uninsured goes to the hospital, gets a COVID test and it’s positive, then they walk back out the door, that is considered to be a “new admission” or hospitalization for the entire reporting week.

    2. If the CDC Community Level tool tracked only Dare County hospitalizations, Dare County would have been in a medium level for the past seven weeks. Instead, Dare County has been in a high level for four out of seven weeks. This is due to the fact that the CDC lumps every county in America into Health Service Areas (HSAs). Dare is lumped into an HSA with Perquimans, Pasquotank, and Camden counties, even though none of them share a border with Dare County. Currituck County, which shares two borders with Dare County is within the Virginia Beach HSA and has been in low and medium community levels for seven weeks in a row, even though Currituck County is in the bottom five of vaccination rates in the state.

    You can check all this out by diving deep into how the CDC puts together the Community Level tool. Two weeks ago, Dare County reported zero hospitalizations, but the CDC reported 24 hospitalizations for the HSA, which put Dare County in high level. Last week, Dare County reported 2 hospitalizations, but the CDC reported 18 hospitalizations, which again put Dare in high level. This is all easily verifiable by looking at what CDC reports as the hospitalizations per 100k for Dare County. Last week, CDC reported 17.8 per 100k for the HSA, which equals 18 people hospitalized. This 18 didn’t occur in Dare County, because Dare County only reported two hospitalizations. It’s clear that the other three counties in Dare’s HSA are having bad weeks, that’s the only explanation for why Dare County was in high community level two weeks ago when the county had zero hospitalizations.

    Tuesday, Jul 26 @ 1:22 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    John, to check out your point, I went to the CDC community spread tracker. While Dare and Perquimans are listed as high transmission communities, two others that you say are in the same HSA — Camden and Pasquotank — are currently listed at medium level.

    Tuesday, Jul 26 @ 2:57 pm
  • Patricia Merski

    Well, could it be that we are inundated with thousands of tourists who we don’t know who is vaccinated or not….

    Tuesday, Jul 26 @ 2:17 pm
  • Dethrol

    @Patricia Our tourism numbers at this point in the summer are in the millions. The fact is (and correctly so since this is personal and private information) you’ve never had any idea who is vaccinated or not since this whole thing started. Another fact is that medical professionals all over the planet are recording more cases among the vaccinated than the unvaccinated. Get on with living and for goodness sake stop with the tourist bashing, it’s disrespectful and ignorant.

    Tuesday, Jul 26 @ 3:01 pm
  • John

    Mark,

    An HSA is only used for hospitalization data. The reason why Camden and Pasquotank are in medium is because of their cases per 100k. Here’s the deal: Dare County controls its own destiny if it has 74 or fewer cases – or 199.99 cases per 100k – during the week (CDC publishes new levels every Thursday by 8 pm). If Dare County has 75 or more cases (over 200 cases per 100K) , it has to rely on the HSA. Because Dare County has had over 200 cases per 100K every Thursday, except for 6/30/2022 when the CDC significantly undercounted the number of cases), it has had to be subjected to the HSA for hospitalization data, and these data are putting Dare in high. Check out the “New COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population” for each county and you’ll see they are all the same (only the cases are different, and luckily for the medium counties they had fewer cases). Also, notice the CDC calls them COVID-19 admissions and “new admissions” not hospitalizations. In short, the community level tool is broken.

    Tuesday, Jul 26 @ 4:09 pm
  • Just Sayin

    Patricia, that has always been the case, but more importantly, being vaccinated does not keep a person from getting or spreading Covid. So there is that.

    Tuesday, Jul 26 @ 5:08 pm
  • disgruntled

    @john, the Covid numbers have been a crock of hooey from the begging, I have several reasons for saying that, and good luck to you trying to sort the details on a public form. Have you ever looked at how the CDC comes up with the Flu numbers annually? Well it’s joke also.
    Why where the number of Flu cases so skewed in the 2020-2021 season? My guess is you find what you’re looking for.

    Tuesday, Jul 26 @ 8:28 pm
  • Southern Dawn

    @Dethrol, Bravo! Correct on all points as usual {applause}.

    @Just Saying, Correct. My husband has had covid for over 2 weeks and he was “mandated” by his employer to get the injections until our new VA governor came along and reversed that nonsense. I am unvaccinated and I am still testing negative.

    @disgruntled, I couldn’t agree more.

    Wednesday, Jul 27 @ 7:41 pm
  • Charles

    @disgruntled – Glad to see someone else mentioning the Flu.
    Yup, it is still a thing.

    Thursday, Jul 28 @ 1:12 pm
  • Look@See

    Well midterms are coming sooooo…. Gotta start the fear mongering!!! Must not be getting enough clicks since no one gives AF about C19 anymore

    Thursday, Jul 28 @ 3:04 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Look, it may be true that no one in your circle cares about COVID anymore. But I have been traveling the last week or so and I can tell you that ain’t the case everywhere. In some places, there is still mask-wearing and people choosing to eat outside at restaurants or do take out. Two close friends recently got it and become very ill, including one who had to go the emergency room. I spoke to another friend tonight who said he has more acquaintances with COVID now than at any other time in the pandemic. So maybe you’re not speaking for the whole country.

    Thursday, Jul 28 @ 9:51 pm
  • Just Sayin

    Southern Dawn
    Funny, a year or so ago my comment would have drawn ridicule and vitriol. I am not going to gloat, but I have to say that the few of us that spoke common sense through all of this were right.

    Thursday, Jul 28 @ 8:59 pm
  • Southern Dawn

    Just Sayin,
    Yes, it is funny how time and information can change perspective. I have been on the receiving end of vitriol on this forum for attempting to simply convey information readily available. I’m glad the fleas are in the sand.

    Friday, Jul 29 @ 8:24 am
  • BB Wylie Walden

    Thank you Mark Jurkowitz fo bothr your reporting as well as for your own response here. I and my circle still definitely care about this mutating COVID virus and take it seriously.

    Friday, Jul 29 @ 10:37 am
  • Bebe reposo

    I know I’m a bit crazy – I think it’s from all of the magnetism I’ve gotten from the vaccines. However, I think we should ask the over 1,000,000 people who died from COVID if you were right.
    You may want to notice that there are variants affecting today’s situation.

    Friday, Jul 29 @ 12:01 pm
  • Look@See

    Strange that Covid is on the upswing with all these safe and effective vaccines…

    Tuesday, Aug 2 @ 8:39 am
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