Covid-19 Check-in: Amid statewide record highs, tri-county region experiences case surge [Free]

New Hanover County staff have begun initial inoculations of the Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine. A shipment of the Pfizer vaccine also was expected to arrive this past week. (Port City Daily/Courtesy New Hanover County)

SOUTHEASTERN NC—After surpassing half a million total Covid-19 cases last week, North Carolina reported more than 9,300 cases in back-to-back days starting on Jan. 1, bringing the statewide total to nearly 565,000 cases. 

“The first two days of this year have broken case count records,” Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted Saturday. “These numbers need to be a wake up call.”

While the delivery of Moderna Covid-19 vaccines to local health departments has kicked off southeastern North Carolina’s vaccination effort, counties locally are in the midst of a surge of their own. New Hanover County Public Health has administered more than 1,300 vaccine doses, according to a county press release. It’s now administering the vaccine to healthcare workers, and long-term care staff and residents during the first phase. 


Read More: North Carolina just revised its vaccine priorities. Where is your spot on the list? [Free]

New Hanover County 

According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCHHS) Covid-19 Dashboard, 627 new cases have been diagnosed in New Hanover County during the past seven days. At least seven residents have died from the virus since Dec. 28, putting the total death toll in the county at 91. 

A total of 9,946 cases have been identified in New Hanover, and the county climbed in severity in a county-by-county map of the state that tracks virus metrics with a color-coded system. While New Hanover initially emerged yellow, indicating the lowest levels of severity, it has since moved into the orange, with substantial community spread. The dashboard puts New Hanover’s positive case rate at 9.1%  

NCHHS’s most recent data tracking clusters — groups of cases linked by proximity and time — identified a nine-person cluster at Kiddie Academy of Wilmington South Campus, and a five-person cluster at Classy Bears Day Care and Preschool. There were also clusters being monitored at Coastal Christian High School and Wilmington Christian Academy. 

The state has tracked seven different clusters at nursing homes in New Hanover County, which totaled more than 300 cases. The largest was at Northchase Rehab and Nursing Center, which saw a cluster of 112 individuals.

Read More: Educators demand 6 feet – and no less – from New Hanover County Schools in Plan A

Brunswick County 

With 446 new cases reported in the last week, Brunswick County has surpassed 4,700 total cases. Three deaths in recent days have elevated the total count in the county to 74. 

There are 903 active cases of Covid-19 in the county, according to the county dashboard. More than 3,700 individuals have recovered from the virus as well. Thirteen people are hospitalized for Covid-19 reasons as of Sunday afternoon.

Like New Hanover, Brunswick is classified in the orange tier of the state’s tracking platform; week-old data indicates the positive test percentage is slightly lower than New Hanover’s at 8.6%

Leland Middle, Southeastern Christian Academy and Town Creek Elementary were all sites of clusters, according to statewide date reported Dec. 22, totaling 48 cases within those facilities. Four Brunswick nursing homes were identified on the cluster list, as was one residential care facility and the Brunswick County Detention Center. 

Pender County

Pender County diagnosed around 282 new cases in the past week, bringing the total up to 2582 cases within the county. Of those, 2,239 are among residents, and 343 cases come from within Pender Correctional.

Pender’s dashboard reports 19 current Covid-related hospitalizations and 22 total deaths, with no deaths reported since Dec. 27. 

Pender is in the red category of the state’s county alert system, which indicates critical community spread among residents. Though according to the state tracker as of Dec. 22, New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties exhibited a low impact on local hospitals. It did mark Pender nursing home clusters at The Laurels of Pender and Woodbury Wellness Center, totaling 45 cases.

No clusters at schools had been identified in the state’s Dec. 22 report. 

New Hanover Regional Medical Center

The NHRMC dashboard has not been updated since Dec. 28. 

At that time, an average of 49 patients were hospitalized daily for Covid-19 reasons, with 1,093 patients admitted to the hospital. Of those, 877 had been discharged and 154 died while hospitalized. 


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