By the Numbers: Covid-19 updates in New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender for week of Feb. 22

The FDA gave emergency use approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over the weekend and now the CDC has to approve its distribution, expected today, Sunday, Feb. 28. (Port City Daily/File)

SOUTHEASTERN NC — Over the weekend the FDA approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use. It now awaits approval from the CDC for distribution. Once that happens, the nation will be gearing up for more supply, as almost 4 million doses will be available immediately, upping vaccine supply to states by 25%. Doses could increase by 20 million by the end of March.

Gov. Roy Cooper and N.C.’s top health official, Mandy Cohen, addressed the one-dose shot at last week’s press conference, saying more information will be communicated this week upon its possible rollout.

“We’re already planning to think about where can those doses go, how are we going to allocate that, how are we going to use that, working with our vaccine providers to make sure we have the capacity waiting in the wings, so the moment the vaccine becomes available to us, we can hit the ground running,” Cohen said.


The vaccine could arrive right on the heels of introducing the rest of Group 3 — frontline essential workers — into the vaccine queue on Mar. 10. The governor began gradually opening Group 3 as of last Wednesday, when education staff were eligible for the shot.

The feds also announced this week it will host a mass vaccination event in Greensboro on Mar. 10. Setting up at the Four Seasons Centre, the site will be able to vaccinate 3,000 people by appointment only for at least eight weeks, according to the News & Observer.

To date, N.C. has administered more than 2.3 million shots — up almost 500,000 from last week.

N.C.’s numbers continue tracking downward week after week. Since Port City Daily’s update from last Sunday, the state now is clocking in at a 5.4% percentage positivity (health officials look toward 5% as a goal to prevent viral spread). Hospitalizations, too, have gone from 1,708 to 1,414.

Covid-19 metrics have fallen back to pre-Thanksgiving numbers, and the County Alert System went from 61 counties colored red to 27. New Hanover is back in the yellow (significant spread), while Brunswick and Pender have fallen into orange (substantial spread).

“Numbers are still high but significantly better than they were a month ago,” Cohen noted in Wednesday’s press conference.

Still, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, 18,000 more people tested positive for Covid-19 over the last week, bringing the total count to 858,548.

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.

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New Hanover County

CASES
New Covid-19 cases in New Hanover County increased by 513 the week of Feb. 22. Numbers continue tapering off and showing a decrease in viral spread.

CDC has the positivity rate at 5.49%.

“We are seeing a positive trend in New Hanover County that shows our COVID-19 cases, patients hospitalized from the virus, and percent positivity rate are all decreasing, which is very promising,” Health and Human Services Director Donna Fayko said. “But we are still having too many people die from the virus, and most are older adults.”

Of the 16,255  infected, 14,423 are reported as recovered. However, the death toll rose this week by nine to 153.

CLUSTERS AND OUTBREAKS
Updated Feb. 26, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has confirmed one cluster in Myrtle Grove Christian School, with seven total cases, one staff member and six children.

There is also a cluster in Holly Shelter Middle School, with six cases, one from staff and five from children.

The virus has also spread within two child-care facilities:

  • Classy Bears Day Care and Preschool, with six total cases, three being staff and three children
  • Rising Stars of Wilmington: Eight total cases, with two staff and six children testing positive

Updated Feb. 26, nursing homes and other congregate living facilities with spread include:

  • Accordius Health at Wilmington: 17 total cases, with 13 staff and four residents
  • Autumn Care of Myrtle Grove: 45 total cases, with 12 staff, 33 residents
  • Azalea Health & Rehab Center: 105 total cases, with 45 staff, 60 patients and 10 patient deaths (up six from last week)
  • Bradley Creek Health Center: 45 total cases, with 27 staff and 18 patients
  • Castle Creek Memory Care: 12 total cases, with five staff and 7 residents
  • Cypress Pointe Rehabilitation Center: 82 total cases, with 27 staff, 55 patients and 17 patient deaths
  • Davis Health Care Center: 26 total cases, with 24 staff, two patients and one patient death
  • Liberty Commons Rehabilitation Center: 17 total cases, with 12 staff and five patients
  • New Hanover County Detention Facility: 70 total cases, with 28 staff and 42 inmates
  • Northchase Rehab & Nursing Care: 120 total cases, with 42 staff, 78 patients and eight patient deaths
  • Peak Resources – Wilmington: 90 total cases, 33 staff, with 57 patients and five patient deaths
  • Spring Arbor of Wilmington: 17 total cases, with nine staff and eight residents

VACCINATIONS
New Hanover County officials said it would continue its vaccination process to ensure 72% or the county population (168,820 people) has received their shot to reach herd immunity.

The N.C. Health and Human Services dashboard is showing the county has vaccinated 56% of ages 65-74 and 65% of folks 75 and older. The county and NHRMC also began vaccinating education staff in Group 3 this week, roughly 2,000 PreK-12 and childcare staff from the county’s public, private, and charter schools and childcare facilities. 

Public health is reporting 25,458 total vaccinations administered as of Feb. 26. Of the distributions, 15,336 were first doses and 10,122 were second doses.

Through the county’s partnerships and collaborative efforts with other vaccine providers, 61,185 total doses — 36,462 first doses and 24,723 second doses — have been given.

Health and Human Services Director Donna Fayko said in a press statement she expects the virus to be around permanently. Thus public health already is looking in how to plan moving forward.

“COVID-19 is going to be endemic in the United States,” she said, “meaning it will have a constant presence, like the seasonal flu. This means that, just like the flu, a strong vaccination operation will be needed to prevent deaths, keep people out of the hospital, and reduce the severity of symptoms from the virus.”

RELATED: Extreme weather disrupts vaccine shipping channels: Pender County left without expected 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.

Other appointments through vaccine providers can be made at:

  • 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.

Public health also has released the following information for anyone attempting to get a vaccine in the county:

  • Public Health, as instructed by NCDHHS, will only vaccinate people who live or work in North Carolina.
  • When appointments are available for the county’s online scheduling system, a unique email is required for each appointment. In addition, appointments cannot be transferred to someone else after they have been made.
  • Spanish interpreters are available in the call center to assist with booking appointments and the online appointment system through the county is in English and Spanish when appointments are available.
  • If you have received your first dose of the vaccine, you should receive your second dose of the vaccine through the same provider. Second doses should occur on the date outlined on your vaccine card and not be rescheduled.

Brunswick County

CASES
Brunswick County reported its positivity rate at 7.4%. Its case count rose by only 194 this week to 8,032 overall, along with its death count rising by four to 135 total.

“We still need to remain diligent in efforts like mask wearing and remaining home when possible, especially for those at a higher risk for illness,” Health Services Director Cris Harrelson said in a press release. “Mitigation efforts like these coupled with more vaccinations are likely factors in any improvements we are seeing.”

Brunswick’s Covid-19 dashboard has been down since January 24 due to technical issues. However, it has updated numbers listed on a table chart.

CLUSTERS AND OUTBREAKS
Updated Feb. 26, NCDHHS is reporting clusters and outbreaks in below congregate living and residential care facilities in Brunswick County:

  • Autumn Care of Shallotte: Nine total, with six staff and three patients
  • Brunswick Cove Living Center: 63 total, with 23 staff, 40 patients, and three patient deaths
  • Brunswick Health and Rehab: 62 total, with 25 staff, 37 patients and six patient deaths
  • Carolina Dunes Behavioral Health: 23 total, with 21 staff and two resident
  • Coastal Pointe: Three cases among staff
  • Ocean Isle Operations: 67 total, with 24 staff, 43 residents and 10 resident deaths
  • Universal Health Care/Brunswick: Eight total cases among staff

The virus has also spread within three child-care facilities:

  • Childcare Network Southport has seven cases, with four staff and three children testing positive. 
  • Kids World Academy in Southport, with five total cases, three from staff and two children.
  • Tiny Tots Child Care in Shallotte has nine cases, including one staff member and eight children

Updated Feb. 26, K-12 clusters include:

  • Jessie Mae Moore Elementary: Nine total, with one staff and eight children
  • Lincoln Elementary School: 8 total, with two staff and six children
  • North Brunswick High School: Six total, two staff and four students
  • South Brunswick Charter School: 15 total, with three staff and 12 students
  • Union Elementary School: 10 total, with two staff and eight children

VACCINATIONS
Brunswick County is reporting  26,979 first doses and 14,310 second doses administered to residents.

More than 800 individuals were vaccinated at an outreach clinic in underserved and historically marginalized communities last week.

Supply remains low, and appointments are added weekly based on current allocation numbers received from the feds. Supplies are sufficient for follow through on all appointments scheduled Mar. 1-5.

Brunswick County schedules appointments at NovantHealth.org/BrunswickVaccine. Questions can also be sent to coronavirus@brunswickcountync.gov.

Folks who don’t have access to internet can call public health at 910-253-2339, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Pender County

CASES
According to Pender County Health and Human Services, 4,511 people (up 84 from last week) have tested positive for Covid-19 the week of Feb. 22, with two hospitalizations. Of those cases, 98% have recovered and 52 have died.

The state dashboard varies and is reporting 4,649 cases and 55 deaths.

CDC has the Pender’s positivity rate at 7.34%.

Pender breaks down its cases by area percentages:

Burgaw: 17% cases
Hampstead: 36% cases
Rocky Point: 16% cases
Watha/Willard: 7% cases
Other: 23% cases

CLUSTERS AND OUTBREAKS
Updated Feb. 26, NCDHHS has confirmed clusters in the following Pender County congregate living facilities:

  • The Laurels of Pender: 132 total cases, 40 staff, 92 residents
  • Woodbury Wellness Center: 146 total cases, 53 staff, 93 residents and nine resident deaths
  • Pender County Jail: 22 total inmates

Pender County has no confirmed clusters in schools or daycares.

VACCINATIONS
According to the state, 11,940 people have received vaccines in Pender County. Of those, 7,634 are first doses and 4,306 are second doses.

Vaccination appointments can be made when supply is available by calling 910-663-4200 on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Folks can make online appointments at pendercountync.gov.

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.

As of Feb. 26, NHRMC has 1,723 Covid-19 patients admitted to the hospital for Covid-19. That number of hospitalizations increased by 54 from last week.

Of the overall patients, 1,421 were discharged and 287 have died (up by 20 since last week).

The daily average of hospitalized Covid-19 patients has decreased since last week from 31 to 22.

NHRMC has given 6,575 more doses since last week, going from administering 46,690 to 53,265 to date.

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