By the Numbers: Covid-19 updates in New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender for week of March 15

New Hanover Public Health increased vaccinations over the last week by 1,656 to 34,561 vaccinated. 20,659 were first doses and 13,902, second. (Port City Daily/Courtesy New Hanover County)

On Wednesday, March 17, the vaccination queue opened to more folks: Group 4 people with high-risk health conditions and those who live in some congregate settings. The rest of Group 4’s frontline essential workers will be able to get their jabs on April 7, if not earlier, according to Gov. Roy Cooper.

Across North Carolina, more than 3.5 million total shots (20.9% of the population) have been given since Covid hit last March. Of those, 1.4 million (13.4% of the population) have been fully vaccinated (70% or so is the goal for herd immunity). More than 200,00 were administered the week of March 15.

The state’s positivity rate has stayed below health officials’ goal of 5%, tracking around 4.9%, up a little from last week’s 3.7%.


Cooper announced at his weekly press conference a desire to ease some restrictions — hopefully, in the coming week — ahead of his executive order’s expiration. He also expressed interest in opening vaccinations to every adult that wants one before the president’s goal of May 1.

RELATED: Cooper may ease restrictions by next Friday, says vaccines open to all of N.C. likely before May 1

Since North Carolina began tracking the virus a year ago, the state has had 895,263 positive cases, out of more than almost 10.9 million tests administered. Case counts have risen by more than 12,000 since last Sunday, and the state now has seen more than 11,820 deaths from the virus. Yet, hospitalizations have gone from 1,028 to 964 over the last week.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced, beginning March 26, it will publish the Covid-19 dashboards Monday through Friday only.

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
It was one year to the day that New Hanover County marked its first Covid case on March 18, with only 35 tracked by the end of the month in 2020.

A year later, 17,157  have been infected, and more than 16,000 have recovered. The death toll only rose by three this week, going from 159 to 162.

New Hanover continues on the trajectory of declining viral spread; case counts increased by 283 for the week of March 15.

“We are continuing to see a decrease in reported cases from the virus and lower numbers of patients admitted to the hospital, with more and more people getting vaccinated,” interim health director David Howard said. “These are all signs of hope, but we have to continue our safety measures to make sure this positive path continues.”

RELATED: Q&A: New Hanover health official talks leveling the Covid curve, accelerating vaccinations, possible spring-break spikes

CLUSTERS AND OUTBREAKS
Updated March 15, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) still shows a cluster at 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.

No child-care facilities have been reported.

There are fewer nursing homes and congregate living facilities with clusters this week. No longer on the list are Autumn Care of Myrtle Grove, Bradley Creek Health Center, and Cypress Pointe Rehabilitation Center.

Clusters include:

  • Accordius Health at Wilmington: 27 total cases, with 19 staff and 8 residents.
  • Azalea Health & Rehab Center: 105 total cases, with 45 staff, 60 patients and 10 patient deaths
  • Davis Health Care Center: 27 total cases, with 25 staff, two patients and one patient death
  • Liberty Commons Rehabilitation Center: 15 total cases (down two from last week), with 12 staff and three patients
  • New Hanover County Detention Facility: 76 total cases (up two from last week), with 30 staff and 46 inmates
  • Northchase Rehab & Nursing Care: 119 total cases, with 42 staff, 78 patients and eight patient deaths
  • Spring Arbor of Wilmington: 17 total cases, with nine staff and eight residents

VACCINATIONS
New Hanover Public Health increased vaccinations over the last week by 1,656 to 34,561 vaccinated. 20,659 were first doses and 13,902, second.

In partnership with local healthcare groups and other outreach efforts, the NCDHHS dashboard shows the county has inoculated more than 53,000 individuals with their first shot and 37,903 with both shots.

The county is vaccinating groups 1-3 and part of group 4, ages 16 and up.

“It’s important for people to remember that it takes two weeks after your final dose of the vaccine to be fully immunized,” Donna Fayko, health and human services director, said in a release. “And, even then, it’s important for everyone to continue to be vigilant — washing your hands often, not gathering in large numbers and staying 6 feet from others, and if you are in public, you still need to wear a mask.”

When vaccine appointments open, New Hanover County is informing residents through emails, 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.

As well, the county encourages folks to cancel appointments of and when they receive one elsewhere. To do so, call the county’s call center at 910-798-6800.

Brunswick County

CASES
Brunswick County’s case count rose by only 141 this week to 8,433 overall. Its death count rose by two to 141 total. The county also is reporting 285 active cases and 8,007 recovered.

Brunswick’s positivity rate is at up from 5.9% to 6.4%, according to county officials.

The county noted in a release that contact tracing shows family/social gatherings, household contacts, workplace contacts, and community spread (unknown contacts) show from where the most recent cases evolved.

“The public’s commitment to mask wearing and increasing vaccinations continue to serve as core factors in managing the virus right now,” health services director Cris Harrelson said. “We continue to stress the importance of following the Three Ws together and to avoid gatherings with people you do not live with as we work toward vaccinating everyone.”

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 March 15, NCDHHS is reporting clusters and outbreaks in schools K-12:

  • Lincoln Elementary School: 9 total, with two staff and seven children
  • North Brunswick High School: Five total, one staff and four students
  • South Brunswick High School: 5 total students
  • South Brunswick Charter School: 14 total (up 9 from last week) with two staff and 11 students
  • Union Elementary School: 10 total, with two staff and eight children

There are less congregate-living and residential care facilities on the list this week. The following have clusters and outbreaks:

  • Brunswick Cove Living Center: 63 total, with 23 staff, 40 patients, and three patient deaths
  • Carolina Dunes Behavioral Health: 23 total, with 21 staff and two resident
  • Ocean Isle Operations: 63 total (down four from last week), with 23 staff, 40 residents and 10 resident deaths

VACCINATIONS
Brunswick County is reporting 40,172 first doses and 26,630 second doses administered to residents.

Brunswick confirmed that appointments for March 22-26 will not need to be rescheduled. Appointments are prioritized for eligible individuals in groups 1-3 before it can fully serve Group 4.

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, there has been no change in metrics from last week: 4,796 people (up 111 from last week) have tested positive for Covid-19, with four hospitalizations. Of those cases, 98% have recovered and 60 have died.

Pender breaks down its cases by area percentages:

Burgaw: 18% cases
Hampstead: 36% cases
Rocky Point: 17% cases
Watha/Willard: 7% cases
Other: 22% cases

The state dashboard varies and is reporting 4,932 cases and 67 deaths.

CDC is reporting Pender’s positivity rate down from 8.59% to 6.73%.

CLUSTERS AND OUTBREAKS
Updated March 15, NCDHHS has confirmed clusters in the following Pender County congregate living facilities:

  • Ashe Gardens Care Facility: Two total staff cases
  • The Laurels of Pender: 116 (down 16) total cases, 48 staff, 68 residents, 11 deaths
  • 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, vaccinations have not changed in the county from last week, with 6,578 people fully receiving vaccines.

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 Mar. 19, NHRMC has 1,815 Covid-19 patients admitted to the hospital for Covid-19 up by 26 from last week. That number of hospitalizations increased by 37 from last week.

Of the overall patients, 1,498 were discharged (up by 25) and 303 have died (up by nine since last week).

The daily average of hospitalized Covid-19 patients has gone down since last week from 21 to 17

NHRMC has increased its doses administered, going from 62,229 to 67,529 to date.


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