NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County Public Health officials reported eight deaths from COVID-19 in the first week of September, bringing the total number of county residents who have died from COVID-19 to 213. The county’s COVID-19 metrics have continued to remain high since early August, in both new daily case counts and in percent positivity of COVID-19 tests performed.
Daily new cases reported for the month of August averaged 84 cases per day, while so far in September there have been an average of 94 daily cases reported. New Hanover County’s 14-day percent positivity rate is 13.9 percent and has remained around 14% since early August, nearly three times the five percent positivity rate reported at the end of July. And New Hanover County continues to be classified with high levels of community transmission per the CDC. For reference, in July when New Hanover County was at a 1.5% percent positivity rate, there were an average of 13 new cases reported daily.
“As summer transitions to fall, it is extremely important that people get vaccinated as soon as possible and wear face coverings to help reduce virus spread and reduce severe illness,” said Public Health Director David Howard. “Vaccinations, paired with face coverings, maintaining a safe distance from others, vigilant personal hygiene and cleaning of surfaces, and maintaining the best ventilated spaces possible, all work together to offer personal protection and reduce the risk of virus transmission. Our healthcare system is experiencing high numbers of unvaccinated patients arriving to the ER or to doctors’ offices that are severely ill from COVID-19. While vaccines, face coverings, distancing and cleaning are not cures, they all work in tandem to protect you, and everyone around you. We recognize the very hard work we’ve all done over many months in fighting this pandemic, and encourage you to keep up the good work. Please use these very effective tools to turn our trends around in time for a safe fall season.”
Face coverings are shown to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, as outlined by the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) summary of peer-reviewed science on the effectiveness of face masks to prevent SARS CoV-2 transmission (which is the disease that causes COVID-19), which can be viewed on the NCDHHS website here. In addition, the CDC’s analysis demonstrating that mask wearing reduces new infections can be viewed on the CDC website here.
The county-wide health rule that requires face coverings indoors will remain in effect while transmission in the community is high, but it is meant to be a temporary measure that is revisited frequently. With increased vaccinations and following the mask requirement, Health and Human Services’ goal is for the community to reach a five percent or lower percent positivity rate, ensure the hospital system is not overwhelmed, and for overall case counts to be trending downward or remaining level without continued increases or spikes.
As of September 9, here is where we are as a community on those metrics:
NHC Public Health COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics (no appointment needed):