SOUTHEASTERN NC — For the first time in months, North Carolina is experiencing a downtick in cases as more than 1 million vaccines roll out in the state’s battle against Covid-19. The combination of less cases and more vaccines administered is the way to overcome this year-long worldwide pandemic, according to scientists and health professionals.
On the County Alert System, 66 North Carolina counties are in the red zone, indicating critical viral spread, while 33 are in the orange, showing substantial spread; six remain in the yellow with significant spread. New Hanover has been downgraded to orange, while Brunswick and Pender remain red.
RELATED: New Hanover downgraded to orange on County Alert System, vaccinated almost 34,000 people to date
As of Sunday, North Carolina reported 796,195 cases and 9,983 deaths from Covid-19. Overall, numbers seem to be declining, yet Feb. 3 still had its highest one-day rate to date, with more than 12,000 new cases reported. Yet, the seven-day rolling average has decreased by half since the beginning of January, as hospitalizations continue to decline from almost 4,000 daily in January to just over 2,500 daily over the last week.
The percent of test results returning positive has fallen, too, from 8.4% the week. of Jan. 29 to 7.9% the week of Feb. 1. Health officials previously have considered a positivity rate of less than 5% a goal in slowing the spread of Covid-19.
North Carolina providers have administered over 1 million total vaccine doses, with first-dose administration at 96% and second-dose administration at 49%. The federal long-term care facility program has given 120,884 doses, with 59% of first doses and 14% of second doses given.
To ensure North Carolinians continue eliminating the threat of the virus, Gov. Roy Cooper has 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, decrease in operating hours for onsite alcohol sales, and mask mandates.
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
The first week of February brought a slight downward trend as New Hanover moved into the orange zone on the County Alert System. This indicates less than 10% positivity test rate — to be specific, 9.2% over the last two weeks.
The Covid-19 death toll rose by only three people, bringing the total to 135, according to New Hanover County Health and Human Services.
Assistant Health Director Carla Turner reminded in a press release it’s not reason enough to let down your guard as viral spread has only moved from critical to substantial. Yet, small victories are still noteworthy.
“It looks like we are coming off of the holiday surge we saw after the new year,” Turner said, “and our hope is that case counts trend downward over the coming weeks as well.”
The case count in New Hanover is now at 14,423, with a rise over 770 cases since Feb. 1. Of those, 4,238 people currently are infected.
Monday also set a record one-day high for the county, with 220 new daily cases reported. It falls just under New Hanover’s highest one-day report on Jan. 26 with 256 cases.
Still, 38% of cases reported are coming from the 25-49 age group, which Turner said could be coming from asymptomatic carriers. “So we all have to continue practicing those three Ws: wear, wait, wash, avoid gatherings, and when it’s your time to get a vaccine, please do,” she said in a press release. “All of this together will help us slow the spread of the virus and save people’s lives.”
Clusters and outbreaks
Updated Feb. 2, 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.
It has two clusters in childcare facilities, including New Hanover Classy Bears Day Care and Preschool, with five total cases, two being staff and three children. Child Care New Hanover Rising Stars of Wilmington also has five total cases, with two staff and three children testing positive.
Updated Feb. 5, nursing homes and other congregate living facilities with spread include:
- Accordius Health at Wilmington: Eight total cases among staff
- Autumn Care of Myrtle Grove: 45 total cases, with 12 staff, 33 residents
- Azalea Health & Rehab Center: 81 total cases, with 40 staff, 41 patients and four patient deaths
- Bradley Creek Health Center: 43 total cases, with 25 staff and 18 patients
- Brookdale Wilmington: 16 total cases, with four staff and 12 residents
- Castle Creek Memory Lane: Eight total cases, with four staff and four residents
- Commons at Brightmore: 22 total cases, with six staff, 16 residents, and one staff death and five resident deaths
- Cypress Pointe Rehabilitation Center: 82 total cases, with 27 staff, 55 patients and 17 patient deaths
- Davis Health Care Center: 22 total cases, with 20 staff, two patients and one patient death
- Kempton at Brightmore: 12 total cases, with seven staff and five residents
- Liberty Commons Rehabilitation Center: 13 total cases, with 10 staff and three patients
- Morningside of Wilmington: 19 total cases, with seven staff and 12 residents
- Northchase Rehab & Nursing Care: 118 total cases, with 40 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
The state is reporting 33,945 vaccinations administered in New Hanover County. Of the distributions, 25,215 were first doses and 8,730 were second doses.
As of Feb. 5, New Hanover County Public Health is reporting 10,860 first doses and 6,436 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 book a vaccine appointment upon availability with 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 remains in the red zone, with critical spread at a 10.1% positivity case rate. The county is reporting 6,912 total cases, while the state dashboard is slightly higher at 6,986.
Brunswick’s Covid-19 dashboard has been down since January 24 due to technical issues.
Both county and state show 105 deaths, up three from last week and less than the previous week’s 17 deaths.
Clusters and outbreaks
Updated Feb. 5, NCDHHS is reporting five confirmed clusters in 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: 59 total, with 21 staff, 38 patients, and three patient deaths
- Brunswick Health and Rehab: 62 total, with 25 staff, 37 patients and one patient death
- Carolina Dunes Behavioral Health: 16 total, with 14 staff and two resident
- Coastal Pointe: Three cases among staff
- Elmcroft of Southport: Four cases, with two staff and two residents
- Leland House: 11 total, with three staff and eight residents
- Liberty Commons Nursing & Rehab Center of Southport: Two cases among staff
- Ocean Isle Operations: 47 total, with 18 staff, 29 residents and three resident deaths
- Universal Health Care/Brunswick: Seven 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.
- Tiny Tots Child Care in Shallotte has nine cases, including one staff member and eight children.
- Added to this week is Kids Wolrd Academy in Southport, with five total cases, three from staff and two children.
Updated Feb. 2, K-12 clusters have increased this week, too, and include:
- Town Creek Elementary School: 38 total, with 17 staff and 21 children
- Jessie Mae Moore Elementary: Nine total, with one staff and eight children
- South Brunswick Charter School: 15 total, with four staff and 11 students
- Brunswick Union Elementary School: 10 total, with two staff and eight children
According to the state, Brunswick County has vaccinated 18,225 people, with 15,406 first doses and 2,819 second doses.
Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center, Dosher Memorial Hospital and Brunswick County Health Services will receive at least 1,275 doses per week in coming weeks, the county reported.
Brunswick is reporting vaccine supplies are sufficient to cover all first-dose appointments scheduled for next week. In part, this is due to voluntary cancellations that have come from folks driving to other jurisdictions to get the shots.
Appointments for the third week of February may need to be rescheduled; it depends on supply. If cancellations happen, patients will be notified.
“While we are glad that the coming week is unaffected, it just goes to show that 1,275 doses is not enough to realistically meet the demand in a county where one out of every three people is eligible for a vaccine,” Brunswick County Chairman Randy Thompson said
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.
According to Pender County Health and Human Services, 3,955 people have tested positive for Covid-19 the week of Feb. 1 . Of those cases, 347 are at Pender Correctional.
The case total is up 362 since last week. Four more people died throughout the week, raising the death toll to 48.
The state dashboard varies and is reporting 4,252 cases as of Feb. 6 and 51 deaths. Like Brunswick and New Hanover counties, people ages 25 to 49 are testing positive the most, with 1,525 people from Pender in that age group.
Pender breaks down its case count by areas, as well:
Maple Hill: 69
Rocky Point: 634
Surf City: 90
Topsail Beach: 21
Clusters and outbreaks
Updated Feb. 5, 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, 6,270 people have received vaccines in Pender County. Of those, 4,876 are first doses and 1,394 are second doses.
Pender County Board of Commissioners Chairman George Brown issued a letter to state pharmacist Dr. Amanda Fuller Moore, asking the state re-evaluate Pender’s supply, especially when seeing what other counties comparable to their size have received. Brown pressed that Pender ranks 98 out of 100 in regards to number of vaccines received per-capita since December.
“In raw numbers, Pender County has received 1 dose per 19.11 residents while most counties have numbers in single digits,” he wrote. “[W]e request your office review Pender County’s past distribution.”
Vaccination appointments can be made when supply is available by calling 910-663-4200 on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m..
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 1,540 Covid-19 patients have been admitted to the hospital for Covid-19 as of Feb. 5. That number of hospitalizations increased by 96 from last week.
Of the overall patients, 1,245 were discharged and 246 have died.
The daily average of hospitalized Covid-19 patients has declined since last week from 54 to 45.
NHRMC has given 28,217 vaccine doses to date.
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