On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its community COVID-19 map, showing 61 of North Carolina’s 100 counties are at high risk. Most counties in eastern and southern North Carolina are at high risk.
The CDC advises North Carolina residents at risk of becoming seriously ill to wear a mask in public and take additional precautions, such as getting tested frequently, staying away from poorly ventilated areas or crowds, and having a stroke.
Wake up in one of the few medium-risk neighborhoods
According to the CDC’s analysis of coronavirus data, Wake and Johnston counties are currently not seeing as many coronavirus cases in the community as other surrounding counties.
This week, Wake County saw an average of 308 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents. Health leaders say that number is incomplete because there are many people who test positive for the virus at home and don’t report it to the state.
About 100,000 people in Wake County are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, keeping Wake County in the “moderate” risk category as defined by the CDC.
But Wake County’s positivity rate has been steadily down since May. As of Thursday, North Carolina’s positivity rate was 19%, meaning more than 1 in 6 coronavirus tests conducted in North Carolina come back positive. This number does not include home tests.
About 95% of the population in Wake County has received some form of vaccination against the coronavirus. Not all were fully vaccinated, and a few even received booster shots.
Are community rates of COVID high with low vaccination rates?
The counties with the lowest percentage of vaccinated population are: Rutherford, Robeson, Montgomery, Hoke, Tyrrell, Polk and Harnett.
Harnett County — about 40 miles from Wake County — has high vaccination rates among those 65 and older, but relatively low vaccination rates among those under 65.
Only 43% of Harnett County’s population has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, compared to 95% in Wake. According to the CDC, complete immunization is defined as receiving two doses of Moderna or Pfizer two-dose vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine. For people who are immunocompromised, that definition changes, the CDC says.
New cases of COVID-19 by county
The curves below, each showing the 7-day average of new cases reported, use data collected from state health officials by the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. Counties are sorted by the highest number of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases, and the top 20 counties are displayed by default. Vertical axes are scaled by default based on the maximum number of new cases. Select the variable axis setting to zoom in on each county’s cases individually to see their respective vertices. Enter a county below to highlight it for comparison. NOTE: Starts in September. 25, Johns Hopkins data began to include cases identified through antigen testing reported by DHHS. The addition of these cases appears to be a dramatic increase in some districts.
Source: Johns Hopkins CSSE
Graphics: Tyler Dukes, WRAL // Getting the data
For every 100,000 people in Harnett County, the CDC estimates that about 300 people are testing positive for the coronavirus this week. The county’s positive testing rate is higher than the state’s – more than 26% of people tested in the county are testing positive for the coronavirus, according to the CDC.
Rutherford County, on the other hand, has the lowest vaccination rate, but is not in the CDC’s high-risk category. The county is one of 36 countries at risk of community spread. According to CDC data, it falls into this category because new hospitalizations related to the coronavirus are below 10 per 100,000 people.
However, roughly the same number of people per capita test positive for COVID-19 in Rutherford County as in Harnett County.
Do people get the latest booster shots?
The US announced on Thursday that the latest omicron variants of the coronavirus vaccines — BA.4 and BA.5 — will be available to the public starting in September.
Everyone deserves a booster shot, but many people don’t take advantage of the opportunity. A second booster shot is recommended for Americans age 50 and older and those age 12 and older who are immunocompromised.
But according to the data, there is little hope that people will be interested in getting another booster shot. CDC data shows that only 28% of North Carolinians 18 and older have been fully vaccinated and also received their first booster shot.
No COVID-19 hospitalizations reported in NC
Experts fear that cases will drop further as new infectious variants of omicron emerge.
The number of North Carolinians testing positive for COVID-19 and hospital visits increased by 17% compared to last week, according to data released by the state on Wednesday.
North Carolina is seeing levels of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations not seen since the peak of the outbreak in February.
A total of 1,290 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the week ending July 24, the most since the week ending February 19 in North Carolina.