Albemarle Regional Health Services reported another eight deaths from COVID-19 in the eight-county region this week, including a Perquimans County resident who was younger than 25.
ARHS said three Gates County residents also died of complications from COVID, two between the ages of 50 and 64 and the third over age 65.
Two Pasquotank residents, both over 65 and one a resident of Elizabeth City Health and Rehabilitation Center, also died from COVID this week, ARHS data show.
Deaths were also reported in Bertie and Hertford counties. The Bertie resident was between the ages of 50 and 64; the Hertford resident was over 65.
The Perquimans resident who died was between the ages of 18 and 24, becoming the region’s third resident in that age group to die from COVID. Two Bertie residents in the age group died earlier this year.
New COVID-19 cases in the region, meanwhile, increased this week by 452, which is 34 more new cases than were reported last week. Active cases, meanwhile, held steady at 392, ending five straight weeks of declines.
Pasquotank continued to reported the largest jump in new COVID cases (148), followed by Hertford (71), Currituck (60), Bertie (48), Chowan (38) and Gates (34).
Bertie (16), Chowan (15), Perquimans (5) Gates (3) and Hertford (3) all reported increases in active cases. Those were offset, however, by large decreases in Pasquotank (20 fewer) and Currituck (17 fewer). Camden also reported five fewer active cases this week.
The overwhelming majority of those getting sick — 91.53% since May 1 — continued to be those who aren’t fully vaccinated, ARHS said.
New COVID-19 hospitalizations in the region increased this week. According to the Centers of Disease Control’s COVID data tracker, 21 new hospitalizations for COVID were reported at area hospitals over a seven-day period ending Wednesday. That compares to 16 new hospital admissions reported over a seven-day period last week.
The majority of the hospitalizations were at Sentara Albemarle Medical Center, where 19 COVID-19 patients — 24% of all in-patient beds — were being treated on Friday, according to Sentara Healthcare’s hospitalized patient dashboard.
ARHS data also show that COVID cases at nursing homes and assisted living centers in the region rose this week to 87, up by nine cases from last week. Elizabeth City Health and Rehabilitation continued to have the majority of the cases — 40 — while also reporting three deaths. Heritage Care was second with 19 cases. The COVID outbreak at the Bertie-Martin Regional Jail has been resolved, ARHS said.
ARHS data continue to show the region’s youngest residents — those 17 and younger — making up a quarter of all COVID infections in the region since July 1. Persons ages 25-49 continue to account for the largest share of COVID infections over the past three months: 37.39%.
Children and young teens also continue to have the second-largest share of active COVID cases in the region. According to ARHS, persons younger than 17 accounted for 15% active cases this week. That’s down from 16.45% last week. Again, only residents ages 25-49 accounted for a larger share of active cases.
Persons younger than 49 also continued to make up the smallest percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated: 28.6%.
More than 697 persons in the eight-county region received a first dose of vaccine this week. That’s up slightly from last week. The number of those who got a second dose and became fully vaccinated was 929, down slightly from last week. More than 61% of the population 12 and older in the eight counties has now gotten at least one dose of vaccine. A similar percentage is now fully vaccinated.
ARHS began administering Pfizer booster shots last week to persons over 65, persons younger with compromised immune systems and front-line workers at greater risk of contracting COVID. After administering more than 1,200 booster shots last week through several mass clinics, ARHS administered about 120 doses through its regional clinics this week. More than 61% of those booster doses were administered in Pasquotank and Currituck counties, ARHS data show.
While ARHS is offering only booster shots of Pfizer, it continues to offer third doses of Moderna and Pfizer to residents who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.
ARHS Director Battle Betts also warned residents Friday about an increase in COVID-19-related scams and phishing incidents, which he said have grown since the agency and its partners started administering vaccines.
“It’s important to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from these scams,” he said. “Be wary of any inbound calls, texts, emails or phony websites that ask for your Social Security number, financial details, or insurance or other personal information.”
He also said residents can take the following steps to protect against COVID-related scams:
• Contact a trusted source, such as the health department, for information about how to get the COVID-19 vaccine, or how to access ones COVID-19 vaccine record.
• Don’t open emails, attachments, texts, or links from persons you don’t know, or that come unexpectedly. That can result in downloading dangerous malware to your phone or computer, he said.
• Don’t share personal, financial, or health information with people you don’t know.