Sunday, January 23, 2022

By the Numbers: Covid-19 updates in the state and tri-county region, omicron detected in 15 states

The new omicron variant has been detected in 15 states this week, according to the CDC. (Port City Daily/File)

SOUTHEASTERN NC — With the threat of the newest Covid-19 variant, omicron, sparking what officials fear could be another wave of increased infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows vaccinations across the nation increased by 2.2 million Thursday — the highest one-day inoculations in six months.

Omicron has since been detected in multiple states: California, Hawaii, Washington, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, Louisiana, Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Delta still remains the dominant variant infecting populations in the U.S.

Though omicron hasn’t been tracked in the Tar Heel State yet, officials seem to think it’s only a matter of time.

“We are every day hearing about more and more probable cases so that number is likely to rise,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told ABC News Sunday morning.

Omicron has 30 more mutations in its spike protein compared to delta’s 10, making it a variant of concern to the World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC. Health officials haven’t confirmed whether omicron outpaces delta’s transmissibility, as more data is needed. Though a study, which hasn’t undergone scientific review, was released Thursday suggesting it disseminates twice as quickly as delta and seems to be evading herd immunity, reinfecting those who have had Covid. In the study, 35,670 suspected reinfections were pinpointed among 2,796,982 people.

“Previous infection used to protect against delta, and now with omicron it doesn’t seem to be the case,” researcher Anne von Gottberg of the University of Witwatersrand said at a WHO briefing Thursday.

It’s unclear how omicron will affect the vaccinated, though von Gottberg did state it’s likely to protect against severe illness.

Metrics overall have been inching up slowly in North Carolina, as mask mandates have been lifted across multiple counties and cooler weather has led to more indoor gatherings — though it’s still below 2020 levels. On Nov. 3, over 1,700 Covid-19 cases were tracked, which has more than doubled to 3,720 as of Dec. 3.

The daily case counts topped 3,000 for three days in a row at the end of last week across North Carolina. The state’s percent positivity has gone up to 7.1%, above the 5% benchmark officials prefer with Covid-19 testing; the state was at 4.3% percent positivity at the beginning of November.

These numbers don’t account for Thanksgiving travel, according to North Carolina’s top health official Mandy Cohen — who, earlier in the week, announced her departure effective Jan. 1, 2022. Dr. Cohen indicated it will be at least two weeks until officials can see how holiday gatherings impact Covid numbers.

Read below to find out current Covid-19 metrics in the tri-county area, in cases, clusters, outbreaks, and vaccinations, as assessed by the CDC and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

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New Hanover County

CASES
There have been 225 Covid-19 cases reported in New Hanover County over the last seven days, according to the CDC, which shows the county has 4.99% positive Covid-19 tests, up 0.89% in seven days. The county is marked substantial transmissibility, one metric lower than the highest grade.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) tracks reinfections and shows, between Nov. 6 and Dec. 1., eight out of 523 cases in New Hanover County have tested positive for Covid again.

There have been eight hospitalizations over the last seven days, according to CDC, which equals one-and-a-half admissions per 100 beds.

Of the 12,567 infections countywide since the pandemic began in March 2020, 297 have died. There have been no deaths over the last week and four since Nov. 6, according to NCDHHS.

“COVID is still very much in our community,” health director David Howard stated in a release. “But it is still extremely important to remain proactive by using preventive actions such as physical distancing, wearing a mask in indoor spaces, and practicing good hygiene to reduce the risk of viral transmission. While each of those is important in slowing the spread of viruses, the best defense we all have, individually and collectively, is getting vaccinated…”

VACCINATIONS
NCDHHS shows 64% of New Hanover County’s population has had one dose of the vaccine, while the fully vaccinated make up 60%. 96% of the population over 65 has had at least one dose, while 93% is fully inoculated.

New Hanover County Public Health offers free COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to the community at the health and human services building and Independence Mall. Walk-ins are accommodated but appointments are encouraged and can be made at TakeMyShot.NC.gov.

Vaccine availability includes:

  • Pfizer (two-dose vaccine, approved for anyone 5 & older; note: kids aged 5-11 receive a smaller dose than the adult dose)
  • Moderna (two-dose vaccine, approved for anyone 18 & older)
  • Johnson & Johnson (one-dose vaccine, approved for anyone 18 & older)

Parent or legal guardian consent will be required for ages 5-17.

CLUSTERS AND OUTBREAKS
NCDHHS has confirmed one nursing home in the area with a cluster. Autumn Care of Myrtle Grove has 11 total cases, affecting two residents and nine staff members.

A congregate living center on Martin Street has 11 total cases, with seven residents and four staff.

NCDHHS also reported a previous outbreak at the residential care facility, Morningside of Wilmington, with two cases affecting residents only.

Brunswick County

CASES
There have been 255 Covid-19 cases reported in Brunswick County over the last seven days, according to the CDC. As of Dec. 2, it’s also tracking the county’s positive Covid-19 test rate at 10.62%, up 3.27% in seven days. The county is considered high in transmissibility.

NCDHHS also tracks reinfections and shows six out of 573 cases testing positive for Covid again in Brunswick County from Nov. 6 through Dec. 1.

There have been three hospitalizations over the last seven days, according to the CDC, which equals 3.78 admissions per 100 beds.

Of the 11,921 Covid-19 cases in the county since the pandemic began, 246 have died. There has been two deaths since Nov. 6, with one occurring over the last week, according to NCDHHS.

VACCINATIONS
NCDHHS has 63% of Brunswick County’s population having received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, with 60% of the population being fully dosed. 93% of the 65-and-older population have been partially inoculated and 91% have been fully inoculated.

Vaccinations for the population aged 12 and older takes place at the county’s drive-thru clinic at Coastal Cinemas 10 in Shallotte (5200 Bridgers Rd.), while those aged 5-11 can go to Brunswick County Health Services’ main clinic in Bolivia (25 Courthouse Dr.).

Brunswick County Health Services requires appointments for vaccinations, which can be made here or by calling 910-253-2339. The consent form to fill out for children 5 and up can be downloaded ahead of time here.

CLUSTERS AND OUTBREAKS
NCDHHS has confirmed one nursing home in the area with a cluster: Autumn Care of Myrtle Grove has 11 total cases, affecting two residents and nine staff members. It also has the residential care facility Carolina Dunes Behavioral Health showing 17 total cases affecting 14 staff and three residents.

NCDHHS is reporting a previous outbreak at two facilities:

  • Brunswick County Detention Center: 46 total cases affecting six staff and 40 inmates
  • Coastal Pointe Assisted Living & Memory Care: 12 total cases, affecting four staff and eight residents, with five resident deaths

Pender County

CASES
There have been 142 Covid-19 cases reported in Pender County over the last seven days, according to the CDC. As of Dec. 1, it’s tracking the county’s positive Covid-19 test rate at 12.45%, up 2.48% in seven days. The county is considered high in transmissibility.

NCDHHS also tracks reinfections and shows four out of 333 cases in Pender County tested positive again for Covid from Nov. 6 through Dec. 1.

There have been no hospitalizations over the last seven days, according to CDC.

Of the 14,654 cases in the county since the pandemic began March 2020, 102 people have died. There has been one death since Nov. 6, according to NCDHHS.

VACCINATIONS
NCDHHS shows 52% of the population in Pender County has received at least one dose, while the fully vaccinated make up 48% of the population. 83% over the age of 65 have received one dose, and 81% has been fully inoculated.

Vaccinations are offered at two locations in Pender County: the health department (803 S. Walker St, Burgaw, NC, 28425) and Annex Building (15060 US-17, Hampstead, NC, 28443). Both locations are open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. (closed noon -1 p.m.).

CLUSTERS AND OUTBREAKS
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has confirmed six cases, all residential, in a correctional facility in Pender County.

North Carolina has allotted CARES Act money toward getting more inmates and correctional facility staff vaccinated, according to Raleigh’s WCNC. Staff who get a vaccine will receive a $500 bonus and inmates who opt to get a vaccine will receive $25 in their canteen.

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, Pender and Brunswick counties.

Its dashboard hasn’t been updated since Nov. 12, which had 3,445 people hospitalized to date, with 2,883 discharged. It showed 550 people passed away from Covid-19, and was serving on average 10 patients daily during the week of Nov. 12.

NHRMC has administered 114,081 vaccinations as of mid-November 2021.


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Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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