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COVID cases rising in all local counties

While not at the high levels experienced in some parts of the state, the Delta variant of COVID-19 is making its presence known in the Roanoke-Chowan area.

The number of active cases increased locally for the fourth consecutive week. As of the most current report (from Friday, Aug. 6), the number of active cases by local county are:

Northampton: 24 (+5 from the previous week)

Hertford: 23 (+18, marking the largest one-week increase locally)

Bertie: 19 (+11)

Gates: 12 (+3)

“We are continuing to see significant spread of the Delta variant in unvaccinated individuals across the region,” stated R. Battle Betts, Jr., Health Director of Albemarle Regional Health Services (ARHS).

Betts noted that 95 percent of new COVID cases in the Albemarle region from May 1 through August 3 are among the unvaccinated.

“The Delta variant is significantly more contagious than the original virus,” he stressed. “While the original virus spread from one person to an average of two or three people, the Delta variant is spreading from one person to an average of six people. Therefore, unvaccinated people are at greater risk of catching and spreading COVID-19, and they pose a risk to children under 12 who cannot be vaccinated and those who are immunocompromised.”

Betts pointed out that viruses such as COVID-19 can easily mutate.

“With each mutation, a new and stronger variant can emerge,” he stated. “The best way to prevent this is to vaccinate as many people as possible. Variants are less likely to emerge when a pandemic is brought under control.”

With a rising number of new cases across the state (nearly 16,000 were reported just this past weekend alone) and new evidence, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has updated its guidance related to fully vaccinated people to include:

Fully vaccinated people who have a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be tested 3-5 days after exposure and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

Fully vaccinated people should wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission or until more people are vaccinated and viral transmission decreases.

“It is important for those who are vaccinated to follow the updated guidance and continue urging your family and friends that getting vaccinated is the most effective way to prevent serious illness, hospitalizations and death, and slow community spread,” Betts said. “ARHS continues to have vaccine appointments available at each of our health departments.”

He added that ARHS is also partnering with local schools and community partners throughout the region to offer the vaccine at back to school events.

“We want the vaccine available to everyone who needs and wants it,” Betts stressed. “These vaccine events are of particular importance because based on local data we are estimating that only 9% of children ages 12-17 have been fully vaccinated against COVID. Vaccinations will be an important mitigation strategy as we start school, just like masking and distancing.”

ARHS is continuing to accept vaccine appointments (ages 12-and-up) for first and second dose Moderna and Pfizer, along with Johnson and Johnson, at each of its local health departments. Those in the R-C area can call the Gates County Health Dept. (252-357-1380), the Bertie County Health Dept. (252-794-5322), or the Hertford County Health Dept. (252-862-4054). Those offices can also be contacted for COVID testing.

Northampton County residents can call 252-534-5841 to schedule an appointment for either a COVID-19 vaccine or test.

Statewide, there are nearly 3,500 new cases of COVID-19 reported every day. That number hasn’t reached that high since November of last year.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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