NEW HANOVER COUNTY — After its percentage of Covid-19 tests coming back positive fell by 1%, New Hanover County now trends orange, according to the state’s County Alert System that tracks Covid-19 spread within counties.
Previously, New Hanover County was in the red zone, the most severe label indicating critical viral spread (more than 10% positive tests). Orange indicates substantial spread (8-10% positive tests). Yellow is the third category, indicating a significant amount viral spread (less than 8% positive tests).
While the positive test percentage in the county fell from 10.4% to 9.2%, the 14-day case rate per 100,000 people rose from 916.2 to 957.9, when comparing this week’s report to the Jan. 21 report.
Mandy Cohen, N.C.’s top health official, said at a Thursday press conference that 61 counties still are in the red zone, though it’s a significant reduction from the 86 counties identified as critical two weeks ago.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services updates its county tracking reports every other week. For the first time since the state launched the tracking tool in November, the metrics are on a downward trend.
“Our county moving to orange in the state’s county alert system is good news and means our metrics are starting to trend in the right direction,” New Hanover County Assistant Health Director Carla Turner said in a press release. “It looks like we are coming off of the holiday surge we saw after the new year, and our hope is that case counts trend downward over the coming weeks as well. But we can’t let our guard down.”
Meanwhile, at least 25,000 people in New Hanover County have received the initial dose and more than 8,700 received the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Still, the federal-to-state supply line continues to be outpaced by demand.
After sizable portions of the state’s previous vaccine shipments were utilized for mega vaccine events in Mecklenburg County, state leaders introduced more transparency by allotting counties baseline shipments that could be expected for at least three weeks.
Despite New Hanover County’s capacity to administer thousands of shots weekly through its public health apparatus, the county’s baseline was set at 300 doses per week.
This week 700 additional vaccines were added to the tally, and of the total 1,000 doses, half were given to eligible people who scheduled appointments through the county.
An online scheduling option also was introduced this week.
The other half of this week’s shipment was largely deployed for targeted outreach events for underserved populations, with 50 doses transferred to Cape Fear Clinic. According to the county, 1,422 first doses were administered to minorities.
“With our combined efforts, we have now vaccinated a little more than 10 percent of the county’s population with their first dose,” New Hanover County Health and Human Services Director Donna Fayko said in the release.
“We know we still have a long way to go, but we are encouraged by the partnerships and the additional vaccination providers that are coming on board to serve our citizens in the coming weeks,” she said. “Our biggest hurdle right now is the lack of vaccine supply, but we are consistently advocating and asking for more vaccines from the state. We appreciate the community’s patience as we work to vaccinate as many people as possible, with the limited supply we have.”
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