Albemarle Regional Health Services reported five more deaths from COVID-19 in its eight-county health district this week, including a Pasquotank County resident who was over 65.
New COVID-19 cases in ARHS’ health district climbed by 670 this week with the same three counties — Pasquotank, Currituck and Chowan — continuing to account for more than 60% of the new infections.
The overwhelming majority of those getting sick — 90.63% since May 1 — continued to be those who aren’t fully vaccinated. However, between Sept. 4 and Sept. 10, about 97% of those getting sick weren’t fully vaccinated, ARHS Director Battle Betts said Friday.
Active COVID cases again fell for the third straight week. As of Thursday, the number in the eight-county district was 620, which is 22 fewer than the week before.
Besides the Pasquotank resident, two Currituck residents and two Hertford County residents also died from COVID-related illness this week. One of the Currituck residents was between the ages of 50 and 64; the other was over 65. One of the Hertford County residents was also 65, and was a resident at Ahoskie Assisted Living. The other Hertford resident who died was between the ages of 50 and 64, ARHS said.
Pasquotank reported the largest jump in new COVID cases (212), followed by Currituck (118), Chowan (94), Hertford (70) and Camden (55).
Only Pasquotank (67) and Currituck (2) reported increases in active cases, meanwhile. The six other counties reported decreases, with Bertie reporting largest dip in active cases (29). Pasquotank (193) continued to have the largest number of active cases, while Chowan reported 99 and Currituck reported 96.
New COVID-19 hospitalizations in the region rose from last week. According to the Centers of Disease Control’s COVID data tracker, 36 new hospitalizations for COVID were reported at area hospitals over a seven-day period ending Wednesday. That compares to 30 new hospital admissions reported over a seven-day period last week.
COVID infections at area nursing homes and assisted living facilities also rose this week. ARHS reported 69 total cases at eight facilities last week. It reported 76 at seven facilities this week. An eighth outbreak involving three staff members continued at the Bertie-Martin Regional Jail.
ARHS said a facility outbreak at Edenton Primetime Retirement Center, an assisted living center in Edenton, has been resolved.
The region’s positivity rate — the percentage of COVID tests coming back positive — declined by nearly 1.5 percent to 11.05% for the week of Sept. 18, the latest week available.
ARHS data also show the share of the region’s youngest residents contracting COVID-19 continuing to grow. This week, residents 17 and younger accounted for 24.87% of new infections since July 1. That’s up from 23.69% last week. Only persons ages 25-49 continue to account for a larger share of COVID infections over the past four months: 37.7%.
Children and young teens also continue to constitute the second-largest share of active COVID cases in the region. According to ARHS, persons younger than 17 accounted for 30.32% of active cases this week. Again, only residents ages 25-49 accounted for a larger share: 36.13%
Persons 18-24 accounted for 8.87% of active cases, down from last week’s 9.81% share. The share of cases among persons aged 50-64 grew this week to 15.97%, up by more than 3.5% from last week. The share of persons 65 and older with an active case, meanwhile, fell by nearly 2% from last week.
Betts noted the continuing increase in COVID infections among young people.
“The majority of active cases across the region are among populations 0-17 and 25-49,” he said.
Betts also noted that people in the two age groups also continue to have low vaccination rates. ARHS’ data show all age groups increased their percentage of vaccinations last week. However, persons 49 and younger still make up only 27% of those vaccinated. Persons 17 and younger make up just over 3% of those vaccinated.
“I simply cannot say it enough, vaccines remain our most valuable tool to stay ahead of the virus and keep our community safe,” Betts said.
The total number of those getting a first dose of the vaccine this week in the eight-county region was down slightly from last week. As of Thursday, 935 first doses were administered in the eight counties. That’s one fewer than last week.
Second doses, meanwhile, were slightly up. As of Thursday, 955 had been administered in the eight counties. That’s 13 more than last week.
The number of those ages 12 and older in the health district who’ve received a first dose of vaccine is now 81,530 (nearly 60% of the population), while more than 80,700 (over 59%) are now fully vaccinated with two doses.