By Dare County Health and Human Services
The total COVID-19 positive case count in Dare County is 1,186, of which there are 83 active cases among residents of Dare County. Of the 1,186 cases, 763 are residents and 423 are non-residents. Currently, five residents and 1 non-resident are hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19.
Since the last Dare County DHHS Update issued Friday, December 4, 2020, there have been 53 new positive cases. Of the 53 new cases since December 4th, 39 are residents and 14 are non-residents.
Of the 39 resident cases since Friday, December 4th:
2 of the cases are family members. Both are symptomatic and acquired the virus by direct contact with an individual who tested positive outside of Dare County.
9 of the cases are not connected. 7 are symptomatic and 2 are asymptomatic. All acquired the virus by direct contact with individuals who tested positive outside of Dare County.
18 cases are not connected. 15 are symptomatic and 3 are asymptomatic. All acquired the virus by direct contact with individuals whose positive test results were reported between 12/2 and 12/7.
10 of the cases are not connected. All are symptomatic. It is unclear how these individuals acquired the virus.
Of the 14 non-resident cases since Friday, December 4th:
3 of the cases are family members. All are asymptomatic and acquired the virus by direct contact with an individual who tested positive outside of Dare County.
2 of the cases are family members. Both are asymptomatic and acquired the virus by direct contact with an individual who tested positive outside of Dare County.
5 of the cases are not connected. 3 are symptomatic and 2 are asymptomatic. All acquired the virus by direct contact with individuals who tested positive outside of Dare County.
4 of the cases are not connected. All are symptomatic. It is unclear how these individuals acquired the virus.
Contact tracing has been completed on 44 of the new cases and direct contacts provided by these individuals have been identified, notified, and directed to quarantine. We are working with the other 9 individuals to identify and notify their direct contacts.
Quarantine Guidance Changes
Per CDC and NC DHHS, quarantine is required when an individual has been in close contact (within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes cumulatively over a 24-hour period) during the contagion period of someone who has a laboratory confirmed positive COVID-19 test.
The CDC continues to recommend quarantine for 14 days after last exposure. However, as of December 2, 2020, the CDC has offered options to reduce the duration of quarantine in either of the following two scenarios:
– 10 days of quarantine have been completed and no symptoms have been reported during daily self monitoring;
– 7 days of quarantine have been completed, no symptoms have been reported during daily self monitoring, and the individual has received results of a negative antigen or PCR/molecular test on a test taken no earlier than day 5 of quarantine.
If quarantine is discontinued before day 14, the individual must continue to monitor symptoms and strictly adhere to all nonpharmaceutical interventions (e.g. wear a mask, practice social distancing) through 14 days after the date of last exposure.
Dare County Department of Health and Human Services has been working closely with the state for the past couple of months on the county COVID vaccination plan. The county plan is directed by the state and federal government.
This month, the Food and Drug Administration and their external advisory committee will review two vaccines (one from Pfizer and one from Moderna). The vaccine must go through and pass clinical trials like other drugs and vaccines. The vaccine authorization process is independent and transparent.
There is no COVID-19 virus in these vaccines. The vaccine imitates the infection, so that our bodies think a germ like the virus is attacking. This creates the antibody defenses we need to fight off COVID if and when the real germ attacks.
A tested, safe, and effective vaccine will be available to all who want it, but supplies will be limited at first. The best way to fight COVID-19 is to start first with vaccinations for those most at risk, then reach more people as the vaccine supply increases between January and June 2021. As we receive more information about the specific timeline and who may be vaccinated we will share that with the public. The county vaccination plan will follow the prioritization plan provided by NC DHHS and is as follows:
Prioritization Group 1a – Healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 and Long Term Care staff and residents
Prioritization Group 1b – Adults with 2 or more chronic conditions that puts them at highest risk of severe illness and adults at high risk of exposure including essential frontline workers.
Prioritization Group 2 – Essential frontline workers, adults 65 and over and adults under 65 with one chronic condition that puts them at risk for severe illness
Prioritization Group 3 – Students and critical industry workers
Prioritization Group 4 – Everyone who wants a safe and effective vaccination
For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine please visit the NC DHHS website: www.covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines.
Each week we review the 4 key metrics associated with disease investigation and surveillance. The metrics are:
Number of Tests
Positive Tests as a Percent of Total Tests
COVID Like Illness Surveillance
This past week there were 1,088 COVID-19 diagnostic tests performed in Dare County. This brings the total number of tests performed since early March to 21,898. There were 112 positive cases between November 30 and December 6. The percent of positive tests to overall tests in Dare County since we started testing in early March increased to 5.32%. The percent of positive tests to total tests for the past week alone also increased to 10.3%. Syndromic surveillance of individuals presenting to the emergency department and the urgent care centers with COVID like symptoms is consistent with the level of activity seen over the past few weeks. These graphs can be found on the dare county website at www.darenc.com/covid19.
Controlling the Spread
The vast majority of new cases of COVID-19 in Dare County are linked to direct contact between close friends and families. You can protect yourself and others and help reduce the spread of this virus by practicing the 3Ws – wear a mask, wait six feet apart from others and wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. Also, please make sure you stay home if you are sick. We have seen a recent increase in individuals exposing others while they were symptomatic because they thought their symptoms were related to their allergies. Given how highly contagious this virus is, please stay home if you have symptoms associated with COVID-19.
We strongly encourage anyone who is experiencing symptoms to be tested as well as anyone who may have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19. Testing is widely available in Dare County. Please visit www.darenc.com/covidtesting for details on testing locations.
Communications and Information Sharing
Dare County DHHS has an established schedule of communication to share information regarding COVID-19. On Tuesdays, we release a written update and a video update which includes an overview of the previous week’s COVID-19 key metrics is issued. On Fridays a written update is issued. All released videos and written updates can be found on our website, DHHS facebook page, Dare County Twitter page, and Dare Emergency Management Twitter page. If you would like to receive these updates directly to your email, please sign up to receive our enotifications.
New positive cases are updated on the dashboard on our website and shared on the DHHS facebook page when we receive them. To find the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 cases in Dare County visit www.darenc.com/covid19. State COVID-19 data is available at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard.
We encourage you to stay informed by visiting www.darenc.com/covid19 or by visiting the CDC or NC DHHS websites. If you have specific needs or questions you may also call the Dare County COVID-19 call center open Monday-Friday from 8:30 to 5:00 at 252-475-5008.
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.