RALEIGH — Over the past week, the percent positive rate of COVID-19 tests in North Carolina has risen to the highest level in the past two months.

NCDHHS reported on Monday, April 19, that from latest available data 6.8% were positive. Over the previous seven-day span, the department reported an average of 6.5% of tests as positive per day, an average percentage that is the highest since mid-February.

State health officials have said the weekly rate needs to be five percent or lower to control the spread of the virus, and the rate has not been below that total since mid-March.

Over the last week, DHHS has reported a statewide average of more than 2,000 new cases per day.

COUNTY ALERT SYSTEM UPDATE, VACCINATION STATS

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services on April 16 updated the COVID-19 County Alert System, which shows one red county — an increase from zero on the previous April 1 County Alert System. The update also lists 20 orange counties (previously 21 counties in the April 1 report), 48 yellow counties (previously 47), 30 light yellow counties (previously 31) and one green county (previously one). These updates account for 18 counties having moved up a tier (toward red) since the last report, 19 counties having moved down a tier (toward green) and 63 counties remaining in the same tier.

North Carolina’s key metrics show a leveling of COVID-19 trends after several weeks of decline. Although levels are far below the post-holiday peak in January, most of the state continues to experience significant or substantial community spread with concerning increases in younger adult age groups.

“We want to see our trends in new cases, hospitalizations and percent positive of tests decline again,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “The best way we can do that is by having as many people get vaccinated as quickly as possible and keep wearing our masks when out in public.”

To slow the spread of the virus, people should get vaccinated and continue adherence to the 3Ws until most people have a chance to get vaccinated. Regardless of what tier your county is currently in, individuals, businesses, community organizations and public officials all have a responsibility to take these recommended actions and others outline in the County Alert System.

The COVID-19 County Alert System gives individuals, businesses and community organizations, and public officials a tool to understand how their county is faring and to make decisions about actions to take slow the spread of the virus. The COVID-19 County Alert System uses metrics informed by North Carolina’s key metrics to categorize counties into five tiers:

Avery and Watauga counties are listed in the “moderate impact” category, while Mitchell and Ashe counties are classified as significant spread in the latest system rankings, while Lenoir County is the only county classified statewide in the green, “low impact” classification.

The level of risk and its color classification is determined by multiple factors, including new cases in the county per 100,000 residents over the previous 14-day period, the percent of COVID-19 tests coming back positive, and the hospital impact within each county.

More than 6.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in North Carolina as of April 20, a total of more than 600,000 administered than the previous week, and more than 2.8 million people in the state have been fully vaccinated.

Locally, NCDHHS data indicates that Avery County has administered a total of 6,110 first doses of vaccine, or 34.8 percent of Avery County residents who have received their first-dose vaccine as of April 20, with 28.2 percent of the overall county population, or 4,949 individuals, having received a second-dose vaccination.

“Percent of population metrics are calculated using the entire North Carolina population (i.e., all ages). When a county has a population of fewer than 500 individuals for a specific demographic group, some data are suppressed to protect patient privacy. The state’s dashboard is the source for the most accurate and timely information for vaccine data for the state,” stated NCDHHS on its Dashboard homepage. “North Carolina’s information on people vaccinated comes from the COVID-19 Vaccine Management System (CVMS), a secure, web-based system provided for free to all who administer COVID-19 vaccinations. It helps vaccine providers know who has had a first dose of which vaccine to make sure people get the second dose of the same vaccine at the right time. It also helps people register for vaccination at the appropriate time and allows the state to manage vaccine supply. First Doses Administered data include all first doses administered, regardless of whether the individual has also received a second dose of the vaccine. Second Doses Administered data include individuals who have completed the vaccine series. Information on vaccinations is confidential health information that is carefully managed to protect patient privacy. Information will not be shared except in accordance with state and federal law.”

Click to https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines for more information on the vaccines and vaccine distribution statewide, and to learn more about North Carolina’s vaccine rollout, click to YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov.

Local, state and national statistics

As of Monday, April 19, according to available dashboard data from the NCDHHS, the total number of coronavirus cases rose statewide to 949,366 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

NCDHHS reports that 12,418 people have passed away in connection with COVID-19, including 128 North Carolinians who have died related to the virus over the previous seven-day period.

NCDHHS reported on April 19 that Avery County has 2,059 total positive community cases, an increase of 32 cases from the previous week. The department reports Avery with 20 deaths associated with the virus.

According to NCDHHS Dashboard data on April 19, Avery reports 28 cases per 10,000 residents over the previous 14-day period, In comparison, Mitchell County reports 29 cases per 10,000 residents, while Yancey County reports 22 cases per 10,000 residents. Watauga County reports 10 cases per 10,000 residents, while Ashe County reports 18 cases per 10,000 residents during the same 14-day period.

“Public health staff is working to complete the investigations and they are contacting close contacts to contain the spread of disease,” TRHD reported. “The Yancey, Mitchell and Avery County health departments will keep the public informed by announcing any additional cases that may arise through our local media partners.”

According to latest NCDHHS Dashboard data on April 19 Mitchell County reported a total of 1,357 positive cases and 16 deaths. NCDHHS reports Yancey County with 1,558 total cases as of April 19 with 27 deaths.

Nationwide, Johns Hopkins University & Medicine reports more than 142.2 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with the U.S. totaling 31.73 million cases in the nation as of April 19. Johns Hopkins reports that the United States has experienced 567,729 deaths related to COVID-19 as of Monday, April 19.

The N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health, reporting hospitals and commercial labs report more than 11.96 million completed tests as of Monday, April 19, according to NCDHHS.

The estimate of people presumed to have recovered from the virus as of April 19 is more than 911,719 statewide, with the estimate provided each Monday afternoon by NCDHHS. NCDHHS estimates a median time to recovery of 14 days from the date of specimen collection for non-fatal COVID-19 cases who were not hospitalized, or if hospitalization status is unknown. The estimated median recovery time is 28 days from the date of specimen collection for hospitalized non-fatal COVID-19 cases.

In neighboring counties, Watauga County reports 4,594 positive tests, with 31 active cases and 31 deaths among residents, while Ashe County reports 2,175 positive cases, with 29 active cases and 44 deaths as of April 19, according to AppHealthCare data.

Caldwell County reports 9,135 positive tests as of April 19 with 103 deaths, while Wilkes County has 6,477 reported cases and 108 deaths, according to NCDHHS Dashboard data.

NCDHHS reports McDowell County with 5,122 cases and 63 deaths. Burke County reports 9,750 cases and 149 deaths attributed to the virus, according to NCDHHS.

In Tennessee, Johnson County reports 2,314 cases with 38 deaths, while Carter County reports 6,460 cases and 156 deaths as of April 19 according to statistics from the Tennessee Department of Health.

Statewide, the top four counties reporting total positive cases are Mecklenburg County (107,500), Wake County (84,154), Guilford County (45,274) and Forsyth County (34,553), the sum of which comprises 28.6 percent of all confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in North Carolina, according to April 19 NCDHHS statistics. NCDHHS data reveals that only nine of North Carolina’s 100 counties (Alleghany, Camden, Clay, Gates, Graham, Hyde, Jones, Perquimans and Tyrrell) report less than 1,000 total positive COVID-19 cases.

The reported testing numbers could be incomplete due to differences in reporting from health departments and other agencies. Sources include Toe River Health District, AppHealthCare, NCDHHS, Caldwell County Health Department and Tennessee Department of Health.

Updated news and information on the coronavirus pandemic and the state’s response can be found by clicking to covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard.

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