What Virus Is Going Around North Carolina

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Several counties in North Carolina are in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “red zone” for high levels of community spread. (Image courtesy of CDC)

What Virus Is Going Around North Carolina

What Virus Is Going Around North Carolina

As summer officially begins, the heat and humidity move into North Carolina. But unfortunately, a new wave of Covid-19 cases is spreading across the country.

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Two dozen counties in North Carolina are now in a “red zone” for community transmission of the coronavirus, according to the latest map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These latest COVID numbers contain good news and bad news, said Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease specialist at UNC Health.

“We have seen this slow but steady increase in the number of cases. And of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg. A lot of people get diagnosed at home with a home test,” says Wohl. However, the number of cases is increasing.

“The good news is that hospitalization and death rates are still relatively low, especially when you look at all these cases and how much covid is spreading right now,” he said.

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“The virus is everywhere, it spreads a lot. “Most of us know someone, we are one degree of isolation from someone who has been diagnosed with COVID in the last few weeks,” Wohl said. “We know there are a lot of transfers going on right now.”

The CDC map shows 24 counties with high rates of community spread. More than half of the countries are now listed in yellow or red areas on the map.

The CDC uses a combination of metrics to rank the risk for counties, including case numbers, the number of people hospitalized with the virus and the number of people in hospital beds with COVID-19.

What Virus Is Going Around North Carolina

Two months ago, most of North Carolina was in the CDC’s green zone, but that began to change in recent weeks as the virus began to spread again.

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“It basically reflects several cases,” Wohl said. “That’s the number one thing that takes us from green to yellow to red.”

People still end up in hospitals and people still die from COVID-19, but not as much as during the previous wave.

“We know there’s a lot of transfers going on right now,” Wohl said. “We’re not seeing people get really, really, really sick like we would expect given the number of cases.”

People are now much more protected against viruses, whether by vaccination, infection or a combination of the two.

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The Omcron wave that sickened so many people this winter is likely helping people avoid infections or the worst symptoms of this latest wave, Wohl said.

The latest data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows hospitalizations continue to rise. Since last week, 833 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19, compared to 735 the week before.

Variants of COVID-19 continue to evolve. But vaccines continue to help protect people from the virus, Wohl said.

What Virus Is Going Around North Carolina

“Vaccines still protect us from infection, just not like the original,” he said. “They keep us from getting really sick.”

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“When you consider that Moderna, Pfizer and J&J vaccines were developed to protect us from the original ancestral strain of Covid-19, which is now extinct, like the dinosaurs, that’s gone,” Wohl said.

As of 2020, the original virus no longer exists, but vaccines still help with any future recurrences.

Children over the age of 6 are eligible for the booster, and a vaccine for younger children is expected to receive approval this week.

Many parents of young children are waiting for the vaccine to be approved for children 5 and younger, but Wohl said federal regulators waited until research showed it was safe and effective.

Coronavirus Disease (covid 19)

He said Moderna’s two-dose series is likely to be more popular with younger children than Pfizer’s three-dose vaccine.

“Children are the reservoir that infects adults,” Wohl said. “Many of us have been infected by our children of all ages.”

“I’ll be excited now that I’m protected through the summer,” Wohl said. “We have a wave right now, now is the time to protect ourselves.”

What Virus Is Going Around North Carolina

A CDC map of North Carolina shows high-rise communities spread across much of the coast, where many of the state’s residents flock in the summer.

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“I’m not exactly in the mood to get COVID-19,” Wohl said. “I still don’t accept the virus like a lot of people.”

Wohl said she plans to fly to an outdoor wedding this summer, but her family will wear a double mask at the airport and on the plane.

As Wohl and other public health officials have said in the last year of the pandemic, each individual and each family will determine their own level of risk. The level of risk can change whether people are driving or flying, camping, renting a beach house or staying in a busy hotel. Get our app Our Spectrum News app is the most convenient way to get the news that matters to you. Download it here.

Students began to return to their dormitories. Young students at traditional calendar schools in North Carolina are preparing to start a new year in a few weeks.

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The number of coronavirus cases in North Carolina has skyrocketed in recent weeks, thanks to yet another new variant. But more than two years after the pandemic, the debate has changed.

North Carolina school boards have largely avoided the heated and divisive debate over masking. Vaccines are widely available, even for the youngest students. Most of those who haven’t been vaccinated have some immunity because they already have the virus, public health experts say.

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What Virus Is Going Around North Carolina

The number of COVIDs in North Carolina spiked over the summer, this time due to the BA.5 variant.

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According to the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, there are more than 1,350 people in hospitals with the virus. North Carolina hasn’t seen this many hospitalized Covid patients since late February.

Wastewater monitoring, a measure of how much virus is in wastewater around the country, continues to increase. As more people are tested at home, public health officials are using wastewater monitoring as a more reliable measure of how many people have been infected.

Health officials say fewer people are ending up in hospitals or in intensive care because of vaccinations and new treatments for those at risk of more severe Covid symptoms. DHHS data showed an average of 152 patients with the virus were in intensive care units statewide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers 67 of North Carolina’s 100 counties “high risk.” The CDC recommends wearing masks in public indoor spaces in high-risk counties.

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“More than 95% of the population in most of our counties will have been vaccinated, infected or both in the last 12 to 18 months, putting both school children and adults in a good position for Covid,” said Dr. Danny Benjamin, a Duke pediatrician who studied masking in schools during the pandemic. He also advised Wake County Schools on Covid policies.

Nationwide, about 63% of people are fully vaccinated, according to DHHS. About 59% of North Carolinians have received at least one booster shot.

The Triangle has the highest vaccination rate in the country. Vaccination rates in coastal Dare and Hyde counties, eastern Greene counties and hilly Buncombe counties are about 65%, according to DHHS.

What Virus Is Going Around North Carolina

“There are counties in North Carolina that have pretty low vaccination rates,” Benjamin said. But he added that “the total number of vaccinations and infections in every county in North Carolina is really high.”

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No public school system in North Carolina plans to require masks at the start of the school year.

“We’re not hearing a lot from our members about the Covid issue,” said Leanne Winer, president of the North Carolina School Boards Association. His group represents school boards across the country.

“We’re at a point in the pandemic where most schools are acting like we’ve come back from the acute phase of the pandemic, focusing on the education and emotional well-being of students and the overall health of students,” Benjamin said.

“This is not only good news for parents and children, but also for administrators and school boards,” he said.

Rockingham County, North Carolina

Benjamin, who has spent much of the past two years working on how to prevent Covid from entering schools, said requiring masks in schools should be a last resort.

He said it was time for school health policies to return to a more routine approach to keeping school staff and