SOUTHEASTERN NC — Approximately 300 days into the pandemic, North Carolina is continuing to see Covid-19 cases rise as health officials double down on efforts to vaccinate the people most at risk of infection.
As of Saturday morning, North Carolina has reported 752,627 cases and 9,287 deaths. The seven-day rolling average for new cases remained relatively stable – 6,199 on Jan. 18 and 6,168 on Jan. 30.
The percent of test results returning positive has fallen, though, from 10.5% to 8.4%. Health officials previously have considered a positivity rate of less than 5% a goal in slowing the spread of the virus.
As of Jan. 29, 2,883 people are hospitalized in North Carolina with 97% of hospitals reporting. Hospitals are using 1,178 of the 2,487 available ventilators, more than 2,000 ICU beds and nearly 16,000 inpatient hospital beds.
The number of people who are now vaccinated more than doubled over the past week. On Jan. 18, a total of 573,130 doses had been given across N.C, according to reports. By Jan. 27, that number was up to 1.18 million.
Statewide, there were 794,525 first doses and 387,650 second doses given.
Vaccine supply remains low, with any available appointments locally filling up in minutes. On a call Tuesday with Roy Cooper and other governors, President Joe Biden promised to up vaccine supplies to states by 16% over the next three weeks.
Wednesday, Cooper extended the state’s modified stay-at-home order until at least Feb. 28. That includes the curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., limits on gathering sizes and mask mandates.
“With more than 3,300 people in the hospital, and the percent of positive tests in double digits, we know this virus is still spreading,” Cooper said in a news release. “And with at least one new contagious variant of Covid-19 in our state, we still have work to do. We cannot let our guard down, especially in these cold winter months.”
Let’s take a look at Covid-19 data, including cases, clusters and outbreaks, and vaccinations across the tri-county region and at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
New Hanover County
Another 20 people — all over the age of 65 — succumbed to Covid-19 over the past week, bringing the county’s death toll to 132, according to New Hanover County Health and Human Services.
That number is double last week’s death count of 10.
“To have 20 deaths of our neighbors and friends just this week is devastating,” New Hanover County Health and Human Services Director Donna Fayko said in a press release. “It’s more important than ever to keep up the 3Ws and protect others.”
New Hanover County’s Covid-19 cases are on the rise, too. More than 1,150 were reported in the week.
Tuesday was a record one-day high for the county, with 254 new daily cases reported.
That number beats the record Jan. 11 of 208 and the county’s second-highest one-day case count of 205, made on Jan. 22.
“We are still seeing a sharp rise in people getting Covid-19 in our community,” Fayko said.
The New York Times is ranking New Hanover County at an “extremely high risk level” on its Covid-19 map. It notes rising numbers of hospitalizations and deaths, as well as case counts that over the past two weeks signifies the worst of the pandemic.
The test positivity rate in New Hanover County – which is hovering around 10% – is also alarming, “suggesting that cases are being significantly undercounted,” according to the New York Times.
New Hanover County has counted 13,382 cases (the state report is at 13,538) since the pandemic began. About 38% of those are in the 25-49 age group.
Clusters and outbreaks
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has confirmed one cluster in New Hanover County at Coastal Christian High School. The private school has 30 total cases, including four staff members and 26 students.
Classy Bears Day Care and Preschool has reported cases among two staff members and three children.
Nursing home and congregate living facilities with spread include:
- Accordius Health at Wilmington: Eight total cases among staff
- Autumn Care of Myrtle Grove: 38 total cases, with 11 staff, 27 residents
- Azalea Health & Rehab Center: 71 total cases, with 38 staff, 33 patients and three deaths
- Bradley Creek Health Center: 43 total cases, with 25 staff and 18 patients
- Cypress Pointe Rehabilitation Center: 82 total cases, with 27 staff, 55 patients and 17 deaths
- Davis Health Care Center: 22 total cases, with 20 staff, two patients and one death
- Liberty Commons Rehabilitation Center: 12 total cases, with nine staff and three patients
- Northchase Rehab & Nursing Care: 118 total cases, with 40 staff, 78 patients and eight deaths
- Peak Resources – Wilmington: 89 total cases, 32 staff, with 57 patients and five total deaths
The state is reporting 25,968 vaccinations administered in New Hanover County. It’s an increase of 9,950 from last week’s report.
Of the distributions, 20,422 were first doses and 5,546 were second doses.
When vaccine appointments open, New Hanover County is informing residents through email announcements, text alerts and social media posts. People can also sign up to receive notifications online or by contacting the Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Public health has instructed the public to follow to book an appointment when they become available through the following instructions:
- NHRMC: Vaccinations can be scheduled at nhrmc.org/coronavirus or by calling (910) 662-2020 when appointments are available. NHRMC now has an email list available for anyone to sign up to receive notifications when COVID-19 vaccine appointments are available. The link to sign up can be found here.
- Wilmington Health: Vaccinations can be scheduled at WilmingtonHealth.com/COVIDvaccine or by calling (910) 407-5115 when appointments are available.
Brunswick County’s Covid-19 dashboard has been down over the past week due to technical issues, but NCDHHS is reporting 6,516 positive cases in the southernmost county of N.C.
There have been 367 new cases since last week.
The state is reporting 102 deaths in Brunswick County. Seventeen more people died this week.
Clusters and outbreaks
NCDHHS is reporting nine confirmed clusters in congregate living facilities in Brunswick County:
- Autumn Care of Shallotte: Nine total, with six staff and three patients
- Brunswick Cove Living Center: 58 total, with 20 staff, 38 patients, and three deaths
- Brunswick Health and Rehab: 62 total, with 25 staff, 37 patients and one death
- Liberty Commons Nursing & Rehab Center of Southport: Two cases among staff
- Universal Health Care/Brunswick: Six total cases among staff
- Carolina Dunes Behavioral Health: 12 total, with 13 staff and one resident
- Elmcroft of Southport: Four cases, with two staff and two residents
- Leland House: 11 total, with three staff and eight residents
- Ocean Isle Operations: 47 total, with 18 staff, 29 residents and three deaths
The virus has also spread within two child-care facilities. Childcare Network Southport has seven cases, with four staff and three children testing positive.
Tiny Tots Child Care in Shallotte has nine cases, including one staff member and eight children.
K-12 clusters include:
- Town Creek Elementary School: 38 total, with 17 staff and 21 children
- Jessie Mae Moore Elementary: Five total, with zero staff and five children
Brunswick County Schools also confirmed Union Elementary is a cluster, but the school has yet to appear in NCDHHS’ reporting.
According to the state, Brunswick County has vaccinated 12,745 people, including 11,372 first doses and 1,373 second doses.
Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center, Dosher Memorial Hospital and Brunswick County Health Services will receive at least 1,275 doses per week over the next three weeks, the county reported.
Because this baseline allocation is not enough to fulfill up to 1,200 first-dose appointments already scheduled for the second and third weeks of February, the county may need to reschedule appointments.
Existing appointments through Feb. 5 are still on schedule.
“We are disappointed by the numbers and are heartbroken to think that we might have to call hundreds of residents – most of whom are elderly – to tell them they can’t get their vaccine now after doing everything right,” Brunswick County Chairman Randy Thompson said in a press release.
This upcoming week NCDHHS is sending the county an additional 300 doses to bring its total to 1,575 doses. The extra supplies are considered “equity allotments,” which the state is issuing to counties with historically marginalized populations and high numbers of older adults.
In Brunswick County, more than 15,000 residents are 75 or older. Another 31,000 people – about a third of the population – are between the ages of 65 and 74.
It is unknown whether Brunswick County will receive equity allotments in the future.
According to Pender County Health and Human Services, 3,623 people have tested positive for Covid-19 since Jan. 29. Of those cases, 344 are at Pender Correctional.
The case total is up 265 since last week. Four more people died, raising the toll to 44.
The state dashboard varies and is reporting 4,068 cases as of Jan. 30 and 43 deaths. Like Brunswick and New Hanover counties, people ages 25 to 49 are testing positive the most, with 1,419 people in that age group positive.
Pender breaks down its case count by areas, as well:
Maple Hill: 60
Rocky Point: 587
Surf City: 84
Topsail Beach: 20
Clusters and outbreaks
NCDHHS has confirmed clusters in the following Pender County congregate living facilities:
- The Laurels of Pender: 132 total, 40 staff and 92 patients
- Woodbury Wellness Center: 157 total, 28 staff and 129 patients
Pender County has no confirmed clusters in schools or daycares.
According to the state, 4,411 people have received vaccines in Pender County. Of those, 3,707 are first doses and 704 are second doses.
The Pender County Health Department gave 800-plus vaccinations this week. Of those, 680 were first doses and 120 were second doses, according to a county press release.
Next week the county is expecting a shipment of 500 doses from the state, not including second doses.
“It is very frustrating to us, as public health officials, to not have an ample supply of vaccine,” Carolyn Moser, Pender County Health and Human Services director, said in a press release.
Pender County opened a Covid-19 vaccination information center Jan. 20 and has already taken more than 6,000 calls.
People may reach the center at 910-663-4200 on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for vaccination information.
New Hanover Regional Medical Center
New Hanover Regional Medical Center serves a seven-county region so numbers from its Covid-19 dashboard aren’t necessarily reflective of only residents from New Hanover County.
A total of 1,456 Covid-19 patients have been admitted to the hospital for Covid-19 as of Jan. 29. That number of hospitalizations increased by 74 from last week.
Of the overall patients, 1,175 were discharged and 229 have died, including 16 more since last week’s report on Jan. 22.
The daily average of hospitalized Covid-19 patients has declined since last week from 63 to 54.
NHRMC has given 23,843 vaccine doses, according to its report.
Ideas, comments, tips? Email email@example.com