COVID metrics move in positive direction, Health and Human Services Board to meet on face coverings

Posted October 21, 2021 at 10:20 am     Category: News ReleasePublic Health

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – COVID-19 related metrics for New Hanover County have continued to trend in a positive direction, including the percent positivity rate that has fallen below 5 percent for the first time since late July.

Given these improvements, at this week’s Health and Human Services Board meeting, the board voted to schedule a special meeting to consider action on their local health rule that requires face coverings in all indoor public places within New Hanover County. The board has set that meeting for Friday, November 12 at 8 a.m. to hear public comments and review community-wide COVID-19 data in their consideration of action on the rule, which may lead to a vote to repeal the rule or have it remain in place.

The health rule requiring face coverings indoors has been a temporary measure that the Health and Human Service Board put in place in August as COVID-19 case counts, hospitalizations, and percent positivity rates were spiking.

“The board made a commitment to revisit the health rule when we got to a five percent positivity rate in the county and we have reached that mark, so it is reasonable for us to consider this soon and determine how we move forward,” said Health and Human Service Board Chair LeShonda Wallace. “We have to ensure our COVID-19 metrics are remaining steady and hopefully decreasing in case rates and percent positivity over several weeks. We have only recently reached some of those goals, so we want to analyze that in the coming weeks, and ensure this positive data is sustainable. We will discuss this as a board at our special meeting and hear from the public as well, to determine how we move forward.”

Meeting Details & Public Comments

The special meeting will be held in the multipurpose room of the Health and Human Services building, located at 1650 Greenfield Street in Wilmington. In addition, the public may view the meeting live at NHCTV.comyoutube.com/NewHanoverCo and Spectrum Cable channel 13; or listen to the meeting by dialing 415-655-0003 and when prompted for a meeting ID, press 808 594 284, then the pound sign (#).

Public comments for the Health and Human Services Board were accepted through noon on Monday, November 8. All comments received through the online form will be submitted into the record during the special meeting.

The public can also attend the special meeting in person and speak about the health rule. Comments must be limited to three minutes each; and a total of 15 minutes will be allotted for public comments during the meeting.

COVID-19 Health Goals

The Health and Human Services Board will be considering numerous metrics, including having a sustained rate of 100 or fewer new cases of COVID-19 per day, a sustained percent positivity rate of 5 percent or lower, and reduced hospitalizations to ensure there is no burden on our local healthcare system.

As of October 20, 2021, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), there is an average of around 32 new cases per day over the past 14-days; and the percent positivity rate for the past 14 days is 4.8 percent, which continues a downward trend from the five percent reported last week and 6.1 percent for the week prior. In addition, according to NHRMC, there is an average of 25 patients hospitalized for COVID, which is a decrease from 32 last week.

“We’re certainly pleased to see our COVID-related metrics continuing to decline in a positive direction,” said Health and Human Services Director Donna Fayko. “The commitment our community has taken in using preventative measures, like masks, and to get vaccinated are working to slow the spread of COVID-19 in New Hanover County. We encourage everyone to remain diligent and help these metrics continue to fall.”

Vaccination & Booster Information

According to NC DHHS, approximately 144,176 New Hanover County residents (about 61 percent) have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and approximately 136,393 residents (about 58 percent) are fully vaccinated and protected from COVID-19.

Getting vaccinated remains one of the primary protections against severe illness from COVID-19, and Public Health continues to offer free COVID-19 vaccines to the community.

Booster shots of Pfizer (Comirnaty) are currently being offered by appointment only. Public Health will begin offering booster shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson once guidance is received from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which is expected in the coming days.

View additional details about vaccinations, and other COVID-19 information, at Health.NHCgov.com.

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